-- It's a new calendar year, but it was the same old result for the Edmonton Oilers
against the Calgary Flames
at Rexall Place on Saturday night as the Oilers lost for the 10th time in the last 11 editions of the Battle of Alberta, dropping a 2-1 decision to their provincial rivals.
The Flames won their season-high fourth straight game and continued a mastery of the Oilers dating back to a 4-1 win at the end of the 2008-09 season. This time, they got goals from Tim Jackman
and Mark Giordano
while Miikka Kiprusoff
had to make just 17 saves.
"Sometimes, for whatever reason, you get on a good run," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla
said of his team's domination of the Oilers. "They're always big games against these guys as far as momentum.
"When you don't them, it magnifies. When you do, it's even bigger than a normal win, too."
Bad results against the Flames -- interrupted only by a 4-0 victory Oct. 7 in their season opener -- are getting old in a hurry for the Oilers, who lost their sixth straight game and are 6-10-3 at home.
"We just couldn't conjure up the proper connection to the game," Edmonton coach Tom Renney said. "Emotionally and physically, I thought we got pushed out of the game early.
"I don't think we pushed our way in at all. We didn't sustain much of any kind of pressure. I thought in our own end, we needed a greater battle level than what we demonstrated. We seemed to be disconnected."
Since that 4-0 loss to the Oilers, the Flames have won three straight against the Oilers as part of their 10-for-11 run.
"We were coming out feeling real good about ourselves," Iginla said of a losing to the Oilers after going undefeated in the preseason. "That kind of put a little stress in it."
Slow starts have plagued Edmonton all season, and the opening 20 minutes was no different. While the Oilers talked about getting off to a better start, they stood around as the Flames, aided by two power plays, fired 19 shots at Nikolai Khabibulin
while mustering just three of their own at Kiprusoff.
The Flames directed 34 shots in the direction of Khabibulin in the first period -- they had 10 blocked and missed the net on five others -- but had only a goal by fourth-line grinder Jackman at 12:47 to show for it.
"Our line's been getting some offensive pressure the last few games," said Jackman, who had a goal in a 3-2 win over Colorado Friday. "We're starting to get a few bounces, so things have been going good."
The shots were 21-6 for the Flames when Ryan Jones
got the Oilers even on Edmonton's seventh shot. Jones took a pass from Tom Gilbert
and snapped the puck past Kiprusoff for his ninth goal of the season at 10:19.
It didn't stay even very long as Olli Jokinen
won a faceoff back to Giordano, who fired a slap shot from the point that deflected off Dustin Penner and behind Khabibulin at 14:16 for what would stand as the winner.
The Oilers mustered few chances the rest of the way, even taking a bench minor for too many men after pulling Khabibulin for an extra attacker.
"It's not just about shots," center Sam Gagner
said. "We weren't playing in their end and they were in our end. It's as simple as that.
"We feel like we're prepared. We're working hard at practice, making sure we have good habits. For whatever reason, when the game starts, we're a little tentative and not really ready for the physicality. In a game like that, it's so important to be physical and intense. For whatever reason, we didn't have it."
The Oilers, already without captain Shawn Horcoff
(knee) and Ryan Whitney
(ankle) for at least another month, took another hit when star rookie Jordan Eberle
left the game three minutes into the second period with an ankle injury after a collision along the boards with Ales Kotalik. Eberle's left leg folded under him as he went down from the hit.