CALGARY – The Calgary Flames didn’t exactly look like a team that has won five of its last six games, but they were just good enough to take two points from their provincial rivals.
Alex Tanguay scored the shootout winner as the Flames narrowly escaped with a 5-4 victory over the resilient Edmonton Oilers Tuesday night in a game they led by three goals.
“We didn’t play a smart third but we won and it’s a big two points,” Morrison said.
The Flames looked in control leading 4-1 late in the second period but that lead was erased by a furious comeback by the Oilers that began with Jordan Eberle’s goal with 17 seconds remaining.
Magnus Paajarvi and Tom Gilbert scored in the third to send the game to extra time and eventually a shootout.
Miikka Kiprusoff, celebrating his 34th birthday, clinched the win jabbing out a pad to thwart Dustin Penner on the Oilers final chance. That came after stops against Ales Hemsky and Eberle.
“It hasn’t been the strongest part of my game,” Kiprusoff said of his past shootout struggles. “That’s one thing we talked about after last year. We need every point we can get. I’ve tried to be better on that and tried to practice it a little more than I had been doing.”
Tanguay sent the sellout crowd of 19,289 home happy, firing a shot under the crossbar on the Flames’ second shot after Niklas Hagman was stopped on Calgary’s first try.
“You saw how deep he was in the net. When the goalie is that deep, usually there’s going to be a little bit more to shoot at,” said Tanguay.
Jay Bouwmeester and Curtis Glencross also scored for Calgary (6-3-0), which despite struggling Tuesday are still winners of five of their last six.
“I didn’t think Miikka had one of his stronger games here tonight, but he’s not going to be perfect every night either,” Flames coach Brent Sutter said of his goalie, who came into the game with shutouts in two of his last three starts.. “You have to find ways to overcome that when your goaltender is not as sharp as you need him to be. But in the shootout he was rock solid.”
Kurtis Foster had the other goal for Edmonton (2-4-1), which is winless in its last five. The Oilers play seven of its next nine games on the road where they’re 2-22-3 dating back to mid-December of last season.
Ryan Whitney had two assists to extend his points streak to four games (six assists).
“The second period was not our best, we were all over the ice and teams are going to expose us and that’s exactly what they did,” Gilbert said. “We were fortunate that we were only down 4-2, that goal at the end of the second period was huge for us.”
Looking like a completely different team, the young Oilers came out firing in the third period outshooting Calgary 17-10.
Paajarvi cut the deficit to one goal at 6:52 and Gilbert tied it at 9:19 whipping a shot into the top corner through a maze of bodies in front.
“You have to play a full 60 minutes but the way we ended it, that’s the kind of heart we want out of our guys in this locker room,” Gilbert said. “We gave it all we had but unfortunately some early goals really cost us in the end.”
The first 40 minutes were all Calgary.
Morrison opened the scoring on the power play at 5:52, ripping a wicked slapshot past Khabibulin from the blue-line.
Up 2-1 after one period, Calgary increased its lead on goals by Glencross at 2:02 and Morrison at 9:48, who scored Calgary’s league-leading third short-handed goal.
After being stopped on a short-handed breakaway from his own blue-line earlier in the period, Morrison got an identical opportunity and this time beat Khabibulin high on the blocker side.
Edmonton entered the game a dreadful 9-for-18 on the penalty kill over its previous four games and the percentage got worse when they surrendered goals both times they were short handed in the first.
“We just can’t seem to put it together,” said Oilers coach Tom Renney. “But it’s not a matter of throwing your arms up in the air and asking what’s going on, it’s a matter of sticking with it.”
Notes: Foster left the game in the second period with a groin injury and did not return. No update on his condition was provided. . . The Oilers and Flames meet don’t meet again until New Year’s Day. . .It was Morrison’s first two-goal game since Dec. 23, 2008, when he scored twice as a member of the Anaheim Ducks in a 4-3 loss in Calgary. . . Calgary D Steve Staios returned to the line-up after sitting out the past two games. . . Jokinen played in his 900th NHL game. . . Khabibulin is one of only three goalies to have appeared in every minute of every game. Kari Lehtonen with Dallas and Montreal’s Carey Price are the others.