The Edmonton Oilers played the third game of their four-game Northwest Division road trip last night, facing their hated in-province rival Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
Both teams came into the game riding four-game losing streaks. During their respective streaks, the Oilers have been outscored 14-7 and the Flames have been outscored 15-5. Both these teams were in desperate need of a victory.
The game started with some great pace and some good hitting. Everything you would expect from the Battle of Alberta.
The Oilers got the start they needed 2:09 into the first, when Sam Gagner centered a pass from the corner which hit a Flames defender and deflected behind Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, proving the old adage about throwing the puck at the net and letting good things happen.
The Flames almost tied it two minutes later, as a giveaway gave the Flames a two-on-one and Jerome Iginla dinged a blast off the post. With 5:30 gone, the Flames had a chance to tie the game when Geoff Sanderson was called for hooking. The Flames had some good possession and puck movement on the powerplay, and only a magical save by Mathieu Garon off an Owen Nolan deflection kept the Flames scoreless.
The speed of both teams’ forwards caused problems for both defenses. Calgary’s Marcus Nilson broke away into open ice with 6:20 to go, but again Garon made a huge save.
With 3:30 remaining in the period, the Oilers’ Allan Rourke and the Flames’ Eric Nystrom decided to have a go at it. It was a quick fight, and the scuffle ended with Rourke landing on top of Nystrom.
With 2:07 to go, the Flames tied the game after Kiprusoff made a big save at his end and the Flames came back the other way three-on-two. Garon made a big save on Nilson’s initial shot, but the rebound fell to the stick of Alex Tanguay and he put it in the back of the net.
With just under two minutes to go, the Oilers, who rank last in the NHL on the power play, went on the advantage. With only six seconds to go in the period, a one-timer by Nilson from the right circle beat Kiprusoff to the short side to make it 2-1 Oilers.
Cogliano notched his second assist of the game on the play. Shots in the period favoured the Flames 12-10.
The Oilers started the second period with a good chance, as Raffi Torres stole the puck at the blueline, but his blast was saved by Kiprusoff.
At 1:45 in, the Oilers had another chance to increase their lead as Iginla was called for roughing. He had tried to goad Oilers’ defenseman Dick Tarnstrom into a penalty, but Tarnstrom was having none of that.
On the ensuing power play, the Oilers came close to scoring when Jarrett Stoll rifled a shot off the post. Unfortunately, Horcoff was called for goaltender interference on the play, so the Oiler power play was short lived.
The Flames then had a chance on their shortened power play, as a shot from the slot by Iginla was saved by Garon.
The Flames had another chance at 5:03 when Horcoff went back into the penalty box for high sticking Tanguay. Halfway through the penalty kill the Oilers had a shorthanded chance, but Staios’ shot was again saved by Kiprusoff.
The Flames were threw everything they could at the Oilers on the power play, but Garon made some great saves. Near the end of the advantage, Matthew Lombardi steamrolled Garon and was called for goaltender interference, giving the Oilers another power play.
The Oilers had some good movement, and Kiprusoff made his best save of the game on a one timer from Tom Gilbert. However, Tarnstrom was called for interference at the end of the play, and once again a penalty ended an Oiler power play.
A spectacular shot from the slot by Adrian Aucoin was saved by Garon, and again the Oilers were able to withstand the pressure and kill another penalty.
With under eight minutes to go, the Flames again came close as Lombardi was left alone beside the net, but couldn’t tap in a cross crease pass.
With under six minutes to go, a bad line change by the Flames led to Nilson sending Dustin Penner in on a breakaway, but Penner lost control before he could get a shot away.
With under four minutes to go, Gagner was left alone in the slot, but Kiprusoff made another huge save.
In the final minute, the Oilers had a chance again to go up by two with multiple shots on goal, but Kiprusoff was again stellar.
Shots in the period were 17-12 in favor of the Flames, but no one was able to beat either goalie.
The Flames got a good chance off the opening faceoff of the third period, when Iginla streaked down the right side, but Gilbert was there to cut him off.
The Oilers came right back, with Hemsky beating Regehr to the inside, causing Regehr to cross-check Hemsky headfirst into the boards, leading to another Edmonton power play.
On the ensuing advantage, Stoll rang one of the post behind a screened Kiprusoff, but that was the only chance the Oilers got.
With almost seven minutes gone, a great defensive play at the Oiler blue line sent Nilson out on a break. Nilson was tripped at center by Huselius, and the Oilers again had a chance to increase their lead.
This time the Oilers power play clicked, as Shawn Horcoff grabbed a loose puck in front of the net and made no mistake. 3-1 Oilers. With 9:12 gone, Stoll was called for hooking and the Flames had a chance to close the gap. Lombardi had a great chance as he cut to the net from the corner.
His shot was saved by Garon, but Staios is called for tripping on the play, giving the Flames a two-man advantage for just over a minute. The Flames controlled the play during their five-on-three advantage, but the Oilers kept the shooters to the outside.
With just five seconds left in the two-man advantage, Robin Regehr fired a blast from the point that either deflected slightly off Reasoner, and found the back of the net. 3-2 Oilers.
The Flames continued on the second power play, but the Oilers manage to kill the rest of it and keep their one-goal lead.
Regehr’s goal seemed to charge the Flames, as they were all over the Oilers from that point on, and with seven minutes to go Garon had to make another good save off a shot by Iginla.
The Oilers came back after the ensuing faceoff. Nilson fed Tarnstrom for a point shot, and his floater was deflected in front by Horcoff, through the legs of Kiprusoff. 4-2 Oilers.
With 5:02 to go and the Flames had another great chance to close the gap, as Staios was again called for tripping Lombardi. 30 seconds into the power play Tanguay was set up on the far side, but the pass seemed to fool him and he missed the open net.
That was the only chance the Flames got, as the Edmonton penalty killers did a great job.
With two minutes to go and with a delayed penalty coming to the Flames, Cogliano was sent on a breakaway but Kiprusoff again made the save.
After Conroy was called for boarding Reasoner, the Oilers had a chance to salt the game away on the power play to end.
With 20 seconds to go, Kiprusoff went to the bench, but the Flames were offside and he was forced back to the net. The Oilers then killed the clock to win the game.
The Flames outshot the Oilers tonight, 39-35.
This was the kind of game Oiler fans had been waiting for. The team got a good contribution from everyone and their goaltender held the fort and gave them a chance to win.
The Oiler power play also went 2/6, and was instrumental in winning the game. FINALLY!
The penalty kill was equally good with the Flames only going 1/7.
The turning point in the game came in the second period with the Flames on a power play, as Mathieu made several spectacular saves on the Flames’ seven shots.
The Oilers finish their four-game road trip in Vancouver on Wednesday, before going home on Thursday to face the Minnesota Wild.
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