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Flames, Kiprusoff blank Oilers 3-0

by Aaron Vickers /
CALGARY -- The Battle of Alberta continues to be a one-sided affair.

The Calgary Flames beat their biggest rivals for the third time in as many tries this season by blanking the Edmonton Oilers 3-0 on Saturday night. It's the Flames' eighth consecutive victory against their provincial foes, the 15th win in their last 16 meetings with the Oilers and their ninth straight triumph against Edmonton at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Miikka Kiprusoff stopped all 21 Edmonton shots for his second shutout of the season, and Flames captain Jarome Iginla scored twice as the Flames (14-13-2) won their season-best third in a row.

"I can't explain it," Iginla said when asked about his team's dominance. "It's one of those things. They're always fun games to play. They've been close games, but fortunately they've been going our way."

Though his team has come out consistently on the wrong end against the Flames, coach Tom Renney believes the Oilers aren't too far from turning the tide.

"I think we're closer to beating them then they believe we are," Renney said. "I think we've got to really understand that this is right there in front of us and at the end of the day the only guys that have any say in where this goes is our hockey team. We have the potential to beat every team in this league and I think we are capable for that. I don't think there's a mental block or anything like that. I believe we can beat them."

Tom Kostopoulos opened the scoring on the power play 13:45 into the second period. After Matt Stajan won a faceoff in the Oilers zone, defenseman Derek Smith fired a shot that goalie Devan Dubnyk but couldn't control and Kostopoulos chipped home the rebound with one second remaining in a slashing penalty to Sam Gagner.

With the penalty set to expire seconds after a faceoff, Kostopoulos was on the ice to skate his regular shift. He plans to take his newfound power-play prowess to assistant coach Dave Lowry, who manages the man advantage.

"I'm going to have to talk to Dave Lowry about that," Kostopoulos said. "It felt good. That was all Matt Stajan and the big faceoff win. We talked about the faceoff right before and he won it clean, so it was a big draw for us. We got the puck to the net and the puck was just laying there for us."

T.J. Brodie almost had another a minute later. After working his way out of the corner with the puck, Stajan fired a cross-ice pass to the defenseman, who had slid down from the point. Brodie one-timed the pass, but Dubnyk stopped the shot with his pad.

Iginla added to Calgary's lead with 16 seconds left in the period. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Iginla one-timed a Brendan Morrison feed from below the goal line over Dubnyk's blocker.

"It was a great pass," Iginla said. "I thought (Jay Bouwmeester) jumping by and giving it to Mo gave him some time 4-on-4. A big part of 4-on-4 is puck control. He put it right in the wheelhouse and fortunately it went in and went to a good spot."

Iginla added an empty-netter with 19.5 seconds remaining to push the Flames over .500 for the first time this season.

"It does feel good," Iginla said. "It's something our whole game as a group is getting better. Our confidence is growing. I think we're moving the puck better, we have more puck possession and we're skating better. Our goaltending has been outstanding all season. It's great. Our confidence is growing and we want to keep this going."
Both goaltenders also kept the game scoreless through the first period.

Dubnyk's best stop came off Lee Stempniak at 11:55. After driving wide around Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry, Stempniak let go a backhand that was handled by the Edmonton goaltender. Kiprusoff made a sprawling glove save on Ryan Jones after kicking out an awkward rebound on a shoot-in.

"I don't know what I was doing," Kiprusoff said. "I didn't read it right. I tried to take it in my glove then it wasn't there so I tried to kick it and tape-to-tape. It was a pretty lucky save there. It was a good feeling saving that one because it was my mistake."

Calgary almost opened the scoring with less than two minutes remaining in the period. After Rene Bourque's wraparound ended up on the stick of Morrison at the side of the net, Dubnyk kicked the rebound off Morrison's skate. The puck crawled through the crease, but Dubnyk was able to cover it before any Flame could get a stick on it.
The game marked the third time in as many meetings this season that Edmonton has been forced to face the Flames in the second half of a back-to-back.

"We've been lucky we caught them on a back-to-back night," Kostopoulos said. "They played a hard game last night so they're a bit tired. They're a great team. We've been watching them all year. We're thankful for the win and we'll move on."

Renney wasn't willing to use fatigue as an excuse, but was clearly unhappy with the way the Battle of Alberta has been scheduled this season.

"I think the scheduling is BS, to be honest with you," Renney said. "I'd like that opportunity. I'd like to be able to play Calgary three times on the back end of a back-to-back and talk about intensity and jump and all that kind of stuff. I'm not making any excuses at all. I thought Calgary was the better team tonight."
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