Well, it certainly didn’t start the way the Flames wanted to start Saturday’s game in Edmonton, but after falling down 2-0 early on, it was a Calgary dominated affair from there on out. While they didn’t lead until late in the contest, Calgary was 100% deserving of a 5-3 win, their seventh consecutive over their provincial rivals. While they have a shootout loss breaking up a win streak, the Flames have points in four straight and have played good hockey over the majority of that span.
It took just over two minutes for the Oilers to open the scoring, as the Edmonton fourth line got things done. Lennart Petrell was able to deflect a Darcy Hordichuk goal past Miikka Kiprusoff at 2:19 and had Rexall Place rocking early on. Just 41 seconds later, Sam Gagner would score his first of the season on a shot that may have deflected off of Curtis Glencross in front, and just like that, this game had an ugly tinge to it, with Edmonton leading 2-0. Brent Sutter would call timeout following Gagner’s marker, and it took just 49 seconds for the visitors to respond, with Jarome Iginla feeding Olli Jokinen in front of the net for Olli’s sixth of the season. Then at 6:45, Blake Comeau had an outside shot tipped in front by Roman Horak; Nikolai Khabibulin made the initial stop, but a hard charging Rene Bourque followed up with the rebound for his eighth and just like that this game was tied 2-2. The Flames took over the first period following the first two goals against, and finished with an 8-4 margin in scoring chances when it was all said and done.
The second period saw things reeled back in a little for both teams, with the chances a whole lot closer. Of note was Edmonton’s three powerplay opportunities in the middle frame, three opportunities where they didn’t get a sniff of a scoring chance. All in all, the Oilers had six powerplay chances and created one scoring opportunity; in fact, they were outchanced by Calgary at the end of the game.
The Flames had been the better team through 40 minutes, but they fell down a goal at 5:27 of the third period when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins followed up on a soft Kiprusoff play; the Calgary goalie seemed to misplay Jordan Eberle’s flip pass, and the mistake cost the Flames a goal. But again, less than a minute later, we were all tied; Jarome Iginla fed a nice pass to Derek Smith on the left wing who would rifle it upstairs on Khabibulin for his second of the season. On Calgary’s third powerplay goal of the night, they’d finally take the lead at the tail end of the man advantage. Mikael Backlund would take a Jarome Iginla pass in the slot and fire it fivehole on Khabibulin and at 10:25, it was 4-3 Calgary. The Flames made it 5-3 with 32 seconds to go thanks to some nice work from Bourque; he’d free up Jokinen to fire a shot down the ice and into the empty net for his second of the night.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? Well, on this night, you have to give the nod to the aforementioned penalty kill. They didn’t give the number one home powerplay in the league anything all night long, and it was by far their best effort down a man all year long. Calgary was also pretty darn good at even strength for most of this game, and they scored a pair of powerplay goals, so both those facets get honorable mentions this evening.
If the shoe fits…Rene Bourque. When he’s on, he’s on, and tonight he was hustling, hitting, and engaged all night long. That’s three straight pretty strong games for his line with Alex Tanguay and Roman Horak, with the two wingers really doing the heavy lifting. Bourque finished with a goal and an assist, and while he didn’t get a point on the final goal, he certainly did a lot of work to make sure it happened.
Sum It Up
There’s no question in my mind the Flames are in Edmonton’s head. Calgary outplayed them. sure, but watching the confidence and swagger the Oilers played with Friday against Columbus was in stark contrast to the tepid game they played for the most part against the Flames. I guess when you’ve lost seven in a row to a top rival, and 13 of 14 overall, there will be that element coming into play. Now let’s see what the Flames can do against Vancouver tomorrow night.