The Calgary Flames know they won't be going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so they're having fun playing the role of spoiler.
One night after costing the Phoenix Coyotes a valuable point with an overtime victory, the Flames likely ended the playoff hopes of their biggest rival. 2011 first-round pick Sven Baertschi had a goal and an assist and rookie Max Reinhart scored his first NHL goal as the Flames beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 at Rexall Place on Saturday.
Not only did beating their provincial rivals in their own building give the Flames a measure of revenge for an 8-2 shellacking by the Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome 10 days ago, it also may have put the final nail in Edmonton's already-slim playoff hopes.
"They really took it to us in that game," said Flames forward Tim Jackman, who had a pair of assists. "We wanted to put that game behind us and we did with this game. It was a good road win. It's the Battle of Alberta and they were fighting for a playoff spot. We're playing every game as hard as we can and trying to prove to the organization that we all want to be here."
The Oilers lost their fifth game in a row and remained six points out of the final playoff berth in the Western Conference with seven games remaining. They were serenaded by boos in the final minute from the unhappy sellout crowd.
"The fans deserved a much better game," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "We really, really have to look at ourselves in the mirror after this one and figure out what kind of a team we want to be. There's still seven games ahead of us, and we've got some serious analysis to do right now."
Mikael Backlund scored 26 seconds into the game for the Flames, and Dennis Wideman put them ahead to stay with a power-play goal 1:55 into the second period. Lennart Petrell celebrated his 29th birthday by scoring 78 seconds after Backlund's game-opening goal, pulling the Oilers into a 1-1 tie after one period.
Backlund fired a wrister from the slot that hit both posts and went just over the goal line on the game's first shift, but Petrell's snap shot quickly got the Oilers even.
"I thought there was a spark of life after [we made it] 1-1," Krueger said. "But there was a stretch of about 15 minutes where we were shorthanded four times, and that deflated us -- flattened out what we were trying to do.”
Wideman slammed Jackman's rebound past Nikolai Khabibulin with five seconds remaining on a hooking call against Magnus Paajarvi -- the third straight penalty against Edmonton. Baertschi's unassisted goal at 5:13 following a turnover by Ryan Smyth was a wrister from the slot that appeared to fool Khabibulin. It was Baertschi’s first goal in the NHL since March, 15, 2012.
Reinhart, the son of former Flames defenseman Paul Reinhart, rocketed a shot from the left of the slot into the far top corner with 9:41 left in regulation after Jiri Hudler forced Justin Schultz into a turnover and Jackman touched the puck to him.
"I heard it hit the post, and I didn’t know whether it was in or not," Reinhart told CBC's Hockey Night in Canada. "I had to wait for everyone else to celebrate.
"I'll remember that one for a while," added Reinhart, whose mother and younger brother Griffin, a New York Islanders’ draft pick who plays for the Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League, were in the stands at Rexall Place.
Joey MacDonald, who got the start for the second night in a row, made 28 saves. He has been in goal for each of Calgary's past four victories.
"It's an opportunity for me to play and show what I can do, either here or somewhere else," said MacDonald, who was claimed on waivers from Detroit when the Flames decimated by injuries earlier in the season. "There's a lot of pride in this room, and we want to go out on a winning note."
The Oilers know time is running out on them.
"It's up to us to turn things around -- it won't just happen," forward Sam Gagner said. "For us to come out and play like that is embarrassing."
Material from team and national media was used in this report.