EDMONTON - Two teams badly needing points hooked up for the latest skirmish of the Battle of Alberta between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, and it was the Flames who looked like they wanted it more.
Owen Nolan and Matthew Lombardi each had a goal and an assist Saturday to help Calgary win their second straight, knocking off the Oilers 3-1.
Craig Conroy also scored for the Flames (8-8-3) who have now won their last two games after starting the month off with five consecutive losses and moved into a tie for third place in the Northwest Division with Vancouver.
"It was a big win for us," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "After that five-game skid we were two games under .500. We knew with these divisional games we had to improve if we wanted to climb back into the playoffs.
"These are the types of games that you want to play in that situation. It was an emotional win for us, a big boost."
Nolan, who scored just his second of the season, says it was nice to see his team's efforts rewarded.
"We've been working hard," he said. "There was a little stint there where we weren't playing well and deserved to lose. Towards the end of that we were working hard and still not getting the result, so it was nice to get the result from the work tonight."
Andrew Cogliano had the lone reply for the Oilers (7-12-1) who lost their second in a row and have slipped back to last place in the Western Conference and four points back of third in the Northwest.
"We didn't do that well on the forecheck and didn't get much chance to because we kept on turning the puck over at the lines," said Oilers assistant captain Jarret Stoll.
"It's another one of those games where we couldn't find a way to score. It's the same old story. I hate talking about it."
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish says he couldn't fault starting goaltender Mathieu Garon's effort in the loss.
"He gave us good enough goaltending to win the game but the way we played tonight, we didn't give him any support through the first two periods," he said. "This may have been our worst game of the year in terms of the first two periods."
The Flames had the bulk of the good chances in a spirited but scoreless first period. Calgary put eight shots on Garon, who has outplayed usual starter Dwayne Roloson of late. Edmonton only managed three shots on Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Flames continued to pour on the pressure, outshooting the Oilers 8-1 through the first 11 minutes of the second before finally solving Garon with just over eight minutes to go.
After Kiprusoff made a great paddle save on Kyle Brodziak, the Flames broke out the other way as Lombardi hit Nolan on a 2-on-1 pass and then got the puck back for a tap in to make it 1-0.
"That was a big save Kiprusoff made for us and then we came right back and scored off of it," said Flames head coach Mike Keenan. "That was a big momentum changer."
The goal broke Garon's shutout streak of 106 minutes and 42 seconds.
His next streak was less impressive as Calgary struck again less than three minutes later as Nolan picked up a loose puck in front of the Oiler net and lifted a backhand over Garon's glove to put the Flames ahead 2-0 after the second.
Edmonton had their first really good opportunity six minutes into the third on the power play as Robert Nilsson looked to have a wide open net to shoot for during a scramble in front, but his shot deflected wide off Rhett Warrener's stick in front.
The Flames gave themselves a three-goal cushion midway through the third as Alex Tanguay picked up a puck behind the Oilers net and fed it in front to Conroy who banged his third of the season through Garon's legs.
Edmonton finally got on the board two minutes later as Cogliano picked up a rebound at the side of the net and banked a shot off Kiprusoff's skate and in to cut the lead to 3-1.
Calgary outshot Edmonton 27-16.
The Flames are back at it on Sunday in Vancouver while Edmonton will wait until Tuesday to host the Canucks.
Notes - Both the Flames and Oilers are currently in important stretches of games where they're playing eight straight games against teams within their own division. Calgary is now 2-4-0 while Edmonton is 2-3-1a There may finally be some good news on the way for the Oilers' banged-up blue-line. Defenceman Joni Pitkanen practised with Edmonton on Friday and feels he is only a few days away from returning following arthroscopic knee surgerya Oilers rookie Sam Gagner has looked suited for Battles of Alberta thus far. In his two previous games against the Flames, Gagner, whose father Dave Gagner played for Calgary, had two goals. They are the only two goals of his career to date. Gagner had an assist on Saturdaya Entering the contest the Flames hadn't won back-to-back games since Oct. 18-20.