Oilers finally best Flames in 'Battle of Alberta'
Tuesday, 02.21.2012 / 11:50 PMCALGARY –
It took 30 seconds to undo over three years' worth of headaches for the Edmonton Oilers
in the 'Battle of Alberta'.
Losers of nine straight games against the Calgary Flames
, 10 consecutive at the Scotiabank Saddledome and 16 of their last 17 'Battle of Alberta' contests, the Oilers scored goals 30 seconds apart as part of a four-goal outburst in the second period to put an end to several negative streaks and defeat their provincial foe 6-1 Tuesday night.
"It feels good, especially with the way they've played us," said Sam Gagner
, who had a goal and two assists. "We have a lot of pride in here and it's never fun to come into a building and get dominated like we have. We wanted to focus on what we could do tonight and felt we played a great 60 minutes. It's a great feeling in here."
Edmonton, whose last win in the Stampede City came on Oct. 17, 2008, snapped Calgary's three-game winning streak. The loss also marks the first time the Flames haven't earned at least a point in a contest during the month of February.
"This is probably one of our worst efforts of the year," Cory Sarich
said. "We'll learn from it, shelve it and put forth a lot better effort in the next game."
The goals came fast and furious for the Oilers in a second period dominated by the Northern Alberta neighbor.
On a two-on-one created at the Flames blueline, Taylor Hall
fed Ales Hemsky
, who redirected the puck between the legs of a sliding Miikka Kiprusoff
at 8:09 to break a 1-1 tie. The goal came before Calgary's first shot of the period, a lazy wrister off the stick of Tim Jackman
At 12:21, the Oilers struck again. Coach Ralph Krueger called a timeout after an icing to give his tired defense a breather. On the ensuing faceoff, Ben Eager
and Eric Belanger
marched down the ice with another odd-man rush from their own blueline. Eager gained the Calgary zone and fed Belanger, who one-timed the pass behind Kiprusoff to expand the lead to two.
"You can use that timeout in a game that you feel you're in good shape in just to make sure everybody regenerates and we get refocused," Krueger said. "We just happened to go down and score. That was not a play we called. I'd like to take credit for it, but..."
The lead grew to three on the next shift. With a flurry of activity around the Flames net, Jordan Eberle
found Gagner alone in the slot, who beat Kiprusoff over the glove at 12:51 to make it 4-1.
Edmonton extended it 5-1 before the period was out. Marching up the ice on a 4-on-2, Jeff Petry
fed Gagner, who found Ryan Smyth
at the side of the net with just 1:04 remaining, allowing the veteran to celebrate his 36th birthday with his first in 12 games.
After facing 34 shots through 40 minutes, Kiprusoff gave way to Henrik Karlsson
to start the third.
"We rely heavily on Kipper but he can't do it every night," said Scott Hannan
. "When we let that many shots and that many quality shots go it's not going to happen every night. We've got to play better in front of him."
The move gave the Flames a lift to start the third, sending several good scoring opportunities towards Devan Dubnyk
, though none could find their way behind the Edmonton goalie.
Playing more passive with a four-goal lead, the Oilers didn't formally welcome Karlsson into the game until 11:33 when Eberle put a high shot off the shoulder of the goaltender from in close.
With Mark Giordano
in the penalty box, Hall made it 6-1. After the puck squirted through the crease to Hall, the Oilers forward hammered the puck in the net with 2:31 remaining. Karlsson actually snagged the puck out of mid-air, but his glove was already across the line allowing the goal to stand.
The effort avenged Hall's attempt to start the game.
Just over a minute into the contest, he got behind defenseman Jay Bouwmeester
and in alone on Kiprusoff. Hall deked but couldn't slide the puck between the legs of the Flames netminder for Edmonton's first shot of the game.
Calgary was able to get on the board before the midway mark of the first period. With Krys Kolanos
causing havoc in front, Scott Hannan
was able to put a point shot off the glove of Dubnyk and across the goal line. With his assist on the play, Kolanos earned his first NHL point since scoring a goal as a member of the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 15, 2009. He missed nearly 22 months of hockey recovering from microfracture surgery on his left hip.
But the Oilers broke through with just 1:12 remaining in the first on their 17th shot of the period. Kiprusoff was able to handle Corey Potter
's blast from the point -- and Eberle's first rebound attempt -- but couldn't deny his second to make it 1-1.
"We had to stick with it," Krueger said. "I thought we really got tested mentally by going down 1-0 where we had so much pressure in their end. It's a challenge we haven't really risen up to lately. Today the team just persisted, they continued to press, they really stuck with the game plan and as a result got that 1-1 goal that was really important mentally going into the first break."