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Game Blog: Flames vs. Oilers

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

Post-game Analysis: 5-1 Flames

It was supposed to be a tight battle between two undefeated clubs but in the end, the Calgary Flames were the superior team and came out with a big 5-1 victory, giving them a 6-0-0 record in the 2010-11 preseason.

Henrik Karlsson carried the load in goal for the Flames and he didn't disappoint. The relatively unknown netminder is pegged to be Miikka Kiprusoff's backup and if his preseason performance is any indication, he'll be a very liable caddy for the Finn.

"It's always nice to win," he told Sportsnet. "I think we've been playing really good at the moment ... it's a pleasure to play."

While he faced just 21 shots though 60 minutes, the Oilers were putting quality shots on him and he was forced to make several clutch saves in the third period. Despite the challenge, Karlsson said he was comfortable for the entire contest.

"It was really fun. It's a rivalry with this team so it was really fun to get to play. I think we played a really good game."

Another difference maker in the game was Mikael Backlund. With several centermen out with injuries, the youngster was placed on the top line with Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay.

The experiment went extremely well as Backlund assisted on both of Iginla's goals and looked very much at ease as the number one center.

When asked if he was relishing the chance at being on the first line, Backlund was quick to point out he simply wanted to see his injured teammates back out on the ice.

"I just feel bad for those guys," he said. "You never want to see your teammates go down. I just go out and work hard. If the coaches want to put me on the second line or first line, I'll go out and do my best job. Or if it's the third, I don't care. I just want to go out and do my job and work hard every night. Hopefully I'll stick around with the team the whole year."

First Period Action: 0-0

Flames starting lineup: Karlsson, Jay Bouwmeester, Steve Staios, Niklas Hagman, David Moss and Ales Kotalik

Oilers starting lineup: Nikolai Khabibulin, Ladislav Smid, Kurtis Foster, Taylor Hall, Shawn Horcoff and Jordan Eberle

It didn't take long for the contest to get feisty. On Taylor Hall's first shift against his old favourite team, a former Oiler welcomed him to the Battle of Alberta. Staios laid out the 18 year-old with a jarring check, sending Hall straight to the ice.

Robyn Regehr was called for tripping after getting his stick in between Ryan Jones' legs at 1:27 of the opening frame.

He may have drawn a penalty on Regehr but at 4:06, Jones was called for holding on Regehr.

Raitis Ivanans and Steve MacIntyre dropped the mitts at 6:58 and the two heavyweights did not disappoint in the scrap. Both landed several hard hits before the refs pulled them apart.

Ian White nearly opened the scoring when Iginla made a nice drop pass about 10 feet away from the front of the Oilers net. With several players screening Khabibulin, White had the opportunity to wire a shot through the crowd but fanned on the shot.

Iginla got into a shoving match with former Flame Jim Vandermeer. The two ending up getting coincidental minors for cross-checking at 17:34.

With just over 30 seconds left in the period, Theo Peckham was nailed for interference, handing Calgary a power play to start the middle frame.

Second Period Action: 2-1 Flames

The Flames opened up the period with a 1:33 power play thanks to Peckham's interference call late in the first. Calgary was able to get one shot on net during their 2:00 with the man advantage.

The Battle of Alberta got nasty at 2:25 when Stefan Meyer and Liam Reddox got into a battle and then Vandermeer and Tim Jackman dropped the gloves. Meyer and Reddox was a drawn but Jackman earned the decision against Vandermeer with a big right that drew blood.

The Oilers opened the scoring shortly after the fight when MacIntyre was able to tip a shot past Karlsson. The time of the goal was 2:57 with assists going to Peckham and Chris Vande Velde.

Moss landed awkwardly on his arm when he dove for a loose puck and immediately went to the bench. A few minutes later, he retreated to the locker room.

The Oilers bench was penalized for too many men on the ice at 9:57 and then, 1:15 later, Foster was nailed for boarding.

The Flames were able to capitalize on the power play when Hagman snapped a shot that deflected off Tom Gilbert and past Khabibulin. Unfortunately, Kotalik was injured on the play before the goal as he was shoved the ice and had a couple of Oilers pile on top of him. He also went to the locker room for maintenance.

Former Oiler Staios got into a pushing match with Zack Stortini at 15:02 and both got 2:00 for roughing.

While playing 4-on-4, Ales Hemsky was able to get away on a breakaway and appeared to have a clear shot on Karlsson. What he didn't know was that rookie T.J. Brodie had managed to get back into his own zone and dove just in time, knocking the puck off Hemsky's stick and effectively killing the shot.

The Oilers got their second too many men call of the period at 16:42.

With just 16 seconds left in the period, Iginla was able to fire a shot past Khabibulin and give the Flames their first lead of the game. Backlund had the lone assist on the tally.

Third Period Action: 5-1 Flames

The captain kept the pressure up when he scored his second straight goal just 13 seconds into the final stanza. His quick wrister hit the crossbar and bounced in to make it 3-1. Alex Tanguay picked up his second helper of the night on the goal. Backlund also assisted.

MacIntyre put the Oilers down a man when he went to check Staios and ended up getting called for tripping at 2:32.

The penalty parade continued when Peckham was given a boarding call. The Flames power play didn't last very long, however, as White hit Gagner and went to the sin bin for slashing.

Karlsson came up big in the dying seconds of White's penalty with Paajarvi and Gagner bearing down on him. Gagner looked like he had an open side of the net to bat a Paajarvi rebound into but Karlsson got his pad over just in time to make the stop.

The Swedish netminder impressed once again when Reddox came in on a breakaway. Karlsson commited to the pokecheck and was able to deny the quick Oilers forward of a goal. Shortly after, he came up with a big glove save on Eberle.

Jon Rheault notched the Flames fourth of the night at 17:33 when he was able send a wrist shot cleanly past Khabibulin. Ivanans and Staios assisted on the marker.

MacIntyre took a big run at White in the corner and he was banished to the locker room and given a 5:00 major for spearing. The Flames didn't waste the opportunity the tough guy gave them.

Brodie scored his fourth of the preseason on the power play, making it a 5-1 final for Calgary.

Pre-game Analysis

The Battle of Alberta is always an intense affair but add the fact both clubs are undefeated in the preseason and it kicks up the energy level to that of a regular season tilt.

Calgary is 5-0-0 this season and have performed excetionally well against every team they've faced. The Oilers are 4-0-0 and they're giving their young stars like Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle a chance  to showcase their raw talent against the NHL's top players.

The Flames realize the Oilers will be fired up to play a divisional rival but are embracing the chance to play against "the kids."

"I want to see how they play," Craig Conroy told the Calgary Sun on Thursday. "You want to see what it's all about, the hype."

Conroy did note that while the team was excited to play against the likes of Hall, Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi, they were focused simply on themselves.

"We're just really trying to get our team together. We've had a lot of injuries. We just want to play well. The preseason has been going well, with five wins, and now we want to finish the last two off the same way we started."

Probable Flames lines:

Tanguay - Backlund - Iginla
Hagman - Moss - Kotalik
Glencross - Meyer - Jackman
Ivanans - Sutter - Rheault

White - Regehr
Bouwmeester - Staios
Pardy - Brodie


Probable Oilers lines:

Hall – Horcoff – Eberle
Paajarvi – Gagner – Hemsky
Jones – O’Marra – Reddox
MacIntyre – Vande Velde – Stortini

Whitney – Gilbert
Smid – Foster
Peckham – Vandermeer


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