Flames 3, Red Wings 2

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

CALGARY -- If the Detroit Red Wings fail to earn an invite to the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Calgary Flames will deserve credit for their part in ending the longest post-season streak in North America's big four professional sports leagues.
Fourth-line winger Steve Begin got credit for a couple of ugly goals in the third period as the Flames eked out a 3-2 win Wednesday over the Red Wings at the Scotiabank Saddledome, their third consecutive triumph this season over the crew from the Motor City.
Just 2:28 into the final frame, Jimmy Howard tried to set up the breakout behind his net but the puck was stuck in his skates as he returned to the crease, eventually freed by the tip of Begin's stick as he poked it into the net.
With 7:07 remaining and the Wings searching for the equalizer on the power play, Begin again swiped the puck from Detroit's netminder and added an insurance goal on an uncontested wraparound.
At the other end of the ice, goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was almost mistake-free for the Flames, only allowing two goals on 38 shots. The second one -- Johan Franzen's backhander from the neutral zone with 2:42 left on the clock -- was awful, but Kiprusoff ensured it didn't matter, making a beautiful glove save on Wings defenseman Jakub Kindl with 17 seconds left.
Kiprusoff stopped 18 shots in the third period.
The Wings (20-16-7), who have qualified for the postseason in 21 consecutive seasons, squandered an opportunity to stay in eighth spot in the Western Conference. Instead, they're now outside of the playoff picture, two points behind the Columbus Blue Jackets with one game in hand.
With the Blue Jackets' 3-2 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, the Flames (17-22-4) were mathematically eliminated and will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
Lee Stempniak opened the scoring for the Flames at the 13:28 mark of the first period, banging in a rebound after Cory Sarich's shot from the blue line. The other assist was credited to rookie Sven Baertschi, who made a nice spin-o-rama pass to set up Sarich.
Gustav Nyquist tied the score at 12:31 of the second period, tapping the puck past Kiprusoff after a terrific cross-ice feed from Joakim Andersson.
The Flames only managed two shots in the middle period, but grabbed the momentum on Begin's back-to-back goals and hung on for the win.
Next up for the Flames is Friday's date with the Anaheim Ducks, their final home game of the season. The Red Wings have two days off before Saturday's showdown with the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.
NOTES: One day before facing the Flames, the Red Wings officially announced a six-year contract extension for Howard. Detroit's starting puck-stopper will earn $31.8 million during the life of his new deal, which was the worst-kept secret in the hockey. ... The Flames have signed netminder Reto Berra to an entry-level contract for next season. The 26-year-old Swiss goalie was acquired from the St. Louis Blues as part of the return for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. He'll earn $975,000 on the one-year pact. ... Flames center Matt Stajan returned to the lineup after missing four games with a head injury. The hosts were without forwards Brian McGrattan (shoulder) and Alex Tanguay (knee) and defenseman Derek Smith (knee). ... Red Wings forwards Todd Bertuzzi (back) and Mikael Samuelsson (pectoral muscle) are on the road trip but didn't face the Flames, while winger Darren Helm (back) stayed in Detroit. ... Former Buffalo Sabers bench boss Lindy Ruff, who was named head coach of Team Canada for the upcoming IIHF World Hockey Championship, attended the game.

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