CALGARY – The Calgary Flames seemed to be destined for another disappointing loss, until they finally started getting some of the bounces to go their way.
Jay Bouwmeester and Alex Tanguay scored late in the third period Tuesday night as Calgary kicked off a season-high six-game homestand with a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
“Every time we were skating into their zone we were either losing the puck or we weren’t making the right plays, we weren’t taking the good shots, but we stuck with it,” Tanguay said. “You don’t want to say that there’s luck involved in hockey, but we certainly got the right bounces at the right time tonight.”
For the game’s first 54 minutes, it looked like Tom Gilbert’s first period goal was going to stand up.
Calgary finally pulled even when a spirited rush into the Oilers end by Lee Stempniak eventually resulted in the puck landing on the stick of Bouwmeester, who beat a screened Devan Dubnyk with a wrist shot at 14:03.
Re-energized and with the Scotiabank Saddledome jumping, the Flames took the lead 89 seconds later. Cory Sarich’s shot from the blue-line into a crowd bounced to the side of the net where Tanguay knocked in his first goal of the year.
“By no means was it pretty, but we’ll take it,” Tanguay said. “Hopefully we can build a little bit of confidence from the last seven, eight minutes.”
As positive as those final moments were for the home side, it left the visitors with a sour taste in their mouths.
“That’s why it’s a 60 minute game. That’s frustrating,” Gilbert said. “I know our second period wasn’t the way we wanted but we came out, still with the one goal lead and played well enough in the third to win that game. We have to bear down when it comes to crunch time with minutes ticking down in the third period.”
Calgary (2-3-0) has won nine straight at home against Edmonton and 13 of its last 14 games overall. Edmonton (2-2-1) returns home for a four-game homestand of its own.
“That game was ugly,” said Renney, shaking his head. “It was tough sledding out there for both teams, it wasn’t a work of art, that’s for sure.”
After a quiet start to the night, Miikka Kiprusoff finished with 24 stops to improve to 2-2. Included was a huge stop at the end of the game, sprawling to deny Anton Lander with his arm at the side of the net.
“A goalie, like I’ve told you many times before, he’s like a pitcher in baseball. If he plays well he’s going to give you a chance to win and Miikka certainly did that tonight for us,” Tanguay said.
Kiprusoff also came up huge at the end of the second period to keep the Flames within a goal. After firing just two shots on the Flames target in the period’s first 18 minutes, the Oilers peppered Kiprusoff with four shots on a late power play.
“We had a lot of chances on that power play and Kipper took a lot of shots and he was sharp, but you have to execute in these games for sure,” said Oilers forward Magnus Paajarvi. “When the games here are so tight as they are, it’s really, really important and unfortunately we didn’t do that today.”
The Oilers were thwarted on three third period power plays as well to finish 1-for-6. The Flames were 0-for-3 with the extra man.
Renney continued his early season pattern of alternating goalies, going with 25-year-old Dubnyk, who played his minor hockey in Calgary.
Dubnyk continued an alternating pattern of his own, rebounding for an excellent outing. After a 33-save performance in Edmonton’s season-opening 2-1 shootout win over Pittsburgh, Dubnyk surrendered four goals on 26 shots in a 4-1 loss to Vancouver.
“He was good for us. He was square to the shooter. He knows what he’s doing in there and he gave us a chance to get a point tonight,” Renney said.
Edmonton opened the scoring at 6:42 of the first period, capitalizing on a power play, the result of a an undisciplined penalty by Calgary’s Tim Jackman, who got caught cross-checking Cam Barker in a skirmish after the play.
It took only 27 seconds for the Oilers to connect, with Gilbert ripping a hard slapshot past Kiprusoff on the glove side from just inside the blue-line.
Notes: Edmonton LW Taylor Hall (flu) did not play. Linus Omark took Hall’s spot on a line with rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle…RW Pierre-Luc Leblond made his Flames debut. Also returning was C Brendan Morrison, out since tearing his ACL in March. That bumped rookie C Roman Horak and LW Tom Kostopoulos to the press box…Edmonton D Ryan Whitney (ankle) made his season debut…Calgary RW Jarome Iginla played in career game No. 1111, moving him into a tie for 145th on the all-time list. He ties head coach Brent Sutter and long-time Flame Lanny McDonald…Calgary improves to 2-0 when giving up the first goal.