You want to win that. You want to win this rivalry, for sure. I know it’s hard to say why, but maybe you have better focus because it’s rivalry. - Reto Berra
ST. PAUL, MN -- For his first start in nearly a month, Reto Berra showed little in the way of rust.
The netminder stopped 20 of 21 shots in his return to the crease to help the Calgary Flames to a 2-1 overtime victory over the Edmonton Oilers in the ‘Battle of Alberta’ on Saturday.
“I felt really good, especially after a long break. It was a long time ago since I played the last time,” said Berra, whose last start came on Feb. 8 against the Philadelphia Flyers. “I was a little nervous and stuff but I liked it and I had good focus and everything. The guys played so good in front of me. I had some rebounds but my players were there and cleaned it up for me.”
Berra, who improved his record to 9-16-2 with a 2.94 goals against average and .898 save percentage with the effort, almost earned his first career NHL shutout in the win.
The 27-year-old was flawless through the first 49:43 of regulation before David Perron’s 23rd of the year tied the game for the Oilers, forcing overtime and eventual heroics with Sean Monahan’s second goal of the game just 1:50 into the extra frame.
A blanking, though, wasn’t on the mind of the Bulach native who represented Switzerland at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“I was not thinking shutout,” Berra said. “This season, we’ve had so many games 1-0 like that. It’s tough to think shutout. I never do that. Maybe somewhere back in your mind, but you think puck, puck, puck. You watch the puck and think puck. Nothing else.”
Admittedly, though, Berra was thinking about beating the Oilers and with Berra’s help, the Flames evened the ‘Battle of Alberta’. Both clubs have won two games in the best-of-five this season.
That wasn’t lost on the goalie despite the fact the first-year North American pro was just introduced to the battle earlier this year.
“(It’s) especially motivating,” said Berra, who has allowed just six goals in four games against Edmonton this season. “You want to win that. You want to win this rivalry, for sure. I know it’s hard to say why, but maybe you have better focus because it’s rivalry.”
It’s a rivalry unlike one he’s seen before.
The 6-foot-4 keeper said the intensity of the ‘Battle of Alberta’ was at a level he hadn’t experienced before in his career prior to coming to the National Hockey League this season.
“It’s pretty special,” Berra said. “I’m so happy that I can play here and everything.
“We’ve got rivalries too (in Switzerland). We call them derbies.”