CALGARY -- The Edmonton Oilers landed the first punch, but it was the Calgary Flames who delivered the knockout blow late in the third period of the "Battle of Alberta."
Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Tanguay scored 89 seconds apart late in the third period and goaltender Mikka Kiprusoff stopped 24 of 25 shots faced to lift the Flames to a 2-1 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night.
"Any time you play these guys, you want to beat them," Bouwmeester said. "It's the old guys against the young guys right, so take some pride … saving some face, I guess."
Down 1-0 with time running out, Calgary was able to draw even at 14:03 with Bouwmeester's first of the year. The Flames defenseman corralled a loose puck in the slot, beating a screened Devan Dubnyk over the blocker. Tanguay scored what would hold up to be the game winner, batting home a bouncing rebound behind the sprawled Oilers' goaltender at 15:32.
"Every time we were skating down into their zone, we were either losing the puck or we weren't making the right plays," Tanguay said. "We weren't taking the good shots, but we stuck with it. You don't want to say that there's luck involved in hockey, but we certainly got the right bounces at the right time tonight. We'll take that win."
Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert, who scored the lone goal for Edmonton, was disappointed in the outcome.
"That's why it's a 60-minute game," he said. "That's frustrating. We played well enough in the third to win that game. We have to bear down when it comes to crunch time with minutes ticking down in the third period."
While it was Calgary who came out firing in the first period -- outshooting the Oilers 13-7 in the opening period -- it was Edmonton which drew first blood.
With Flames forward Tim Jackman in the penalty box for a high-sticking infraction after the whistle, Gilbert one-timed a pass from Corey Potter from the point, beating Kiprusoff over the glove at 6:42.
Both Kiprusoff and Dubnyk put the game on lockdown in the second period.
At 5:56 of the middle period, defenseman Chris Butler sprung Flames captain Jarome Iginla on a partial breakaway. Iginla deked trying to open the five-hole, but Dybnyk held strong. Not to be outdone, Kiprusoff made a sliding pad save on Eric Belanger at 9:30, preserving the one-goal game.
Both teams continued to trade chances in the second, with Olli Jokinen hitting the post on his own rebound, while Jordan Eberle was robbed on the power play with just over a minute left in the period after taking a cross-ice feed from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Kiprusoff continued his heroics in the third, turning aside 12 Edmonton attempts and swinging the momentum in Calgary's favor.
After Ryan Smyth redirected a point shot off the iron during a man-advantage seven minutes into the third, the Calgary goaltender kicked out both a Potter blast from the point as well as Gilbert's rebound attempt to keep the game 1-0. Kiprusoff then turned aside another power play attempt, robbing Eberle a second time with the blocker on a back door pass at 10:30.
The Flames used the momentum to build pressure in Edmonton's end, eventually capitalizing on the goals by Bouwmeester and Tanguay.
"That's a tough thing to explain," Gilbert said. "You get a lot of chances, especially on the power play. You put one of those in and it’s a different game. Unfortunately for us Kiprusoff made a lot of great saves … kind of turned the tides for them."
Bouwmeester had high praise for his goaltender.
"He's always good," he said. "On those power plays, he made couple big saves. That's what he does."
Kiprusoff saved his best when it mattered most.
Holding off the Oilers in the dying seconds of the game, Kiprusoff turned aside Eberle yet again with his pad to preserve the victory, running Calgary's winning streak over the Oilers in Calgary to nine games and 13 of the last 14 overall.
"We had our chances," Oilers coach Tom Renney admitted. "We had ample opportunity at the end of the rink to do something about it. We couldn't quite pull it off."
The win kicks off a lengthy home stand for the Flames, who are looking to shake off a slow start to the season and build on the momentum of the victory.
"This is the first game of six for us at home. We wanted a win," Tanguay said. "We wanted to get back to .500 Thursday night. That's what we'll put our focus (on) now."