DETROIT – For the second time in as many games, what appeared to be a formality got turned on its ear at Joe Louis Arena.
Only this time, the late-game craziness went in favor of the hometown Detroit Red Wings, who downed the Calgary Flames 5-4 in overtime on Sunday after trailing by two goals with 12:46 left in regulation.
Henrik Zetterberg potted the second of his two third-period goals with just 3.2 seconds left in regulation to send it to overtime, when Nicklas Lidstrom ended it at 1:38 of the extra session with his third goal and 20th point of the season.
The Flames were stunned after getting 2 goals and 3 points by star forward Jarome Iginla just two days after he scored a hat trick to beat the Chicago Blackhawks. Iginla led Calgary (8-11-0) on Sunday, while Alex Tanguay added 1 goal and 2 points – including his sixth goal of the season at 7:14 of the third to put the Flames up 4-2.
It seemed like that would be enough, but the resilient Red Wings (13-3-2) had other plans.
"That's a big two points for us," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "It looked like we were getting nothing and we ended up getting two points."
Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk also came up big for the Wings, scoring his seventh goal of the season and assisting on both of Zetterberg's markers – including a great backhand pass to Zetterberg with time running out in regulation to tie it.
The Wings really turned up the heat late by drawing three minor penalties that resulted in power plays – the last of which called at 1:56 on Jay Bouwmeester for interference. That's the one that led to Zetterberg's tying goal, which was scored with the Wings using a 6-on-4 advantage after pulling goalie Jimmy Howard.
"Talent is a big part of it, but you have to work hard," Lidstrom said, when asked about Detroit's penchant for erasing leads and scoring timely goals. "You can't live on talent alone. I thought that really showed in the third period, where we really had to start working even harder and let the skill come out."
Lidstrom (1 goal, 2 assists), Datsyuk and Brian Rafalski (3 assists) each had 3-point games for Detroit, which finished a six-game homestand with a 5-0-1 mark.
Meanwhile, the Flames stewed about their 10 penalties – including four in the first period and five in the third. Detroit converted 3 of 7 power plays and also killed off a key four-minute Calgary power play after Todd Bertuzzi was called for interference and unsportsmanlike conduct at 8:02 of the third.
That happened just after Tanguay made it 4-2 for the Flames.
"We've got to be smarter and we've got to find ways to stay away from the penalty box," Tanguay said. "We're up 4-2 , we had a four-minute power play and the power play's been scoring the last three games. We had a chance to bury them and take care of our destiny and we didn’t. Not much else you can say."
Iginla, however, is suddenly red hot.
After recent criticism about his lack of production, he has now scored five goals and six points in the last two games. He has 8 goals and 16 points or the season and even picked up a penalty along with Detroit's Justin Abdelkader for a near fight toward the end of Sunday's game.
"His whole game has been better," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "He's getting opportunities that he wasn't getting through the first 15 or so games. He's getting them now because his pace is better … and the puck is going in for him."
It's also going in for Johan Franzen, who potted Detroit's first goal at 1:56 of the first period to give the Wings a quick 1-0 lead. Niklas Hagman then scored Calgary's only other goal to tie it 1-1 at 5:21 of the first.
Franzen's goal came off a feed by Rafalski during a power play, when he one-time the pass past Kiprusoff from just inside the bottom of the right circle for his ninth goal of the season.
Hagman's sixth goal of the season came off a pass from Iginla in the Wings' zone. After receiving the pass, Hagman skated through the slot and beat Howard by deking to the backhand.
The Wings couldn't capitalize on three more power plays in the first and Iginla made sure they paid for it early in the second. He potted both of his goals within the first 4:09 of the period to put the Flames up 3-1.
Iginla's first came just 54 seconds into the second after Matt Stajan shoveled a pass to him from behind the Detroit goal. He fired low show from the bottom of the right circle that beat Howard between the pads.
On the second goal, Iginla put one in the upper part of the net during a power play to give Calgary its first two-goal cushion. The Wings cut it to 3-2 early in the third on Datsyuk's goal during their fifth power play.
Lidstrom blasted a shot from the point that Datsyuk redirected from the low slot for his seventh goal and 22nd point. Tanguay's goal swung momentum in Calgary's favor after a turnover by Rafalski at the right face-off dot, but that’s when the Wings turned it up even more.
Detroit picked up 11 of 12 possible standings points during this homestand, with the only point lost on Friday night in overtime to Minnesota.
"We knew we had to play good and get points," said Zetterberg, whose first goal on Sunday came off a backhander from the slot 11:04 into the third. "I don't think we thought we could get almost all of them, but it's good. We've been playing good at home. That's what we need to do."
Detroit did get a couple of potential injury concerns, with defenseman Jonathan Ericsson having to get his ankle X-rayed in the first period before returning in the second and Mike Modano got banged up late in regulation during a collision.
Babcock said Modano will be re-evaluated early this week before a status update is given. Calgary also lost defenseman Robyn Regehr to an undisclosed injury.