You can make it eight in a row for the Calgary Flames over their provincial rivals, as the Flames were victorious in round three of the Battle of Alberta, taking a 3-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night. While it was close in the opening 20 minutes, the Flames gradually took this one over and snuffed out their upstart rivals to get above the .500 mark for the first time this season.
A very entertaining first period saw both teams have the puck in scoring areas, and saw both goaltenders have to make some pretty impressive saves. Miikka Kiprusoff’s save on Ryan Jones in the waning minutes of the opening frame was his best of the night, and robbed the Oilers forward of what looked like a sure 1-0 lead after 20 minutes; because of that save, it was scoreless after one.
The second period saw the Flames really push the pace, and their edge with the puck really started to show. With three seperate powerplays in the period, Calgary got their chances and scored on their second man advantage of the frame from an unlikely source. Off a Matt Stajan faceoff win, Derek Smith would take an unbalanced shot that would find it’s way to Tom Kostopoulos in front; his third of the year beat Devan Dubnyk at 13:45. With the teams playing four-on-four in the final minute of the second, you could see Jarome Iginla get loose in the slot and so could Brendan Morrison; with a perfect pass to Iginla, the captain hammered home his tenth of the season and giving the Flames a two goal lead after 40.
The third saw Calgary snuff out most anything from the Oilers, and a chasing Edmonton team couldn’t generate a response. Making all 21 saves, Kiprusoff was good for his second shutout of the season.
One Good Reason…
…why the Flames won? Because they were strong all night long, and wore away at their opponent. Edmonton was playing the second of a back-to-back and Calgary took advantage of that, and you could see them taking over in the final 40 minutes of this one. The Flames have won six of their last eight and have played their best hockey by following this script more often than not.
I really liked Jay Bouwmeester on this night, as he played 28 seconds short of 30 minutes on this night and was very good. He helped set up the second goal on the evening, had a little bit of an edge to his game, and showed us a lot of the things that make him still valuable on this team.
Sum It Up
The Flames are taking advantage of a rather light schedule opponent-wise right now, and that’s a good thing. It’s something they need to do and will have to do for the rest of the month. Over this eight game span, where they’re 6-1-1, they’ve played consistent hockey and the same type of hockey they have to play against good teams. Nashville is beatable on Tuesday, and so the blueprint is very well laid out.