CALGARY – A lethal Edmonton Oilers power play made the Calgary Flames pay dearly Friday night for its undisciplined play.
Erik Cole, Lubomir Visnovsky, and Robert Nilsson scored consecutive second period power-play goals as Edmonton remained perfect in three games this season with a 4-3 victory over the Calgary Flames.
The Oilers join the Buffalo Sabres (4-0-0) and Minnesota Wild (3-0-0) as the only NHL teams remaining without a loss.
Trailing 2-1, Edmonton seized control of the game in the second period taking advantage of five straight minor penalties to the Flames.
“In today’s game, you have to be disciplined in the amount of penalties that you take. We ran into penalty trouble when we got waxed up in Edmonton by Calgary (in the pre-season). You have to be careful,” said Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish.
With Craig Conroy in the penalty box for hooking, Cole deflected Sheldon Souray’s slapshot past Miikka Kiprusoff at 6:30 to draw the Oilers even. Then with Todd Bertuzzi off for holding, the Oilers took their first lead on Visnovsky’s slapshot at 11:39. Less than five minutes later with Wayne Primeau penalized for hooking, Edmonton struck again with the extra man as Nilsson scored on a Denis Grebeshkov rebound.
“It’s tough when we’ve got to kill five, six, seven penalties in a row,” Bertuzzi said. “You ask any team, that’s a tough hill to climb. You give them that many opportunities, they’re going to cash in on a few of them.”
Also scoring for Edmonton (3-0-0) was Andrew Cogliano. Bertuzzi, Adrian Aucoin and David Moss scored for Calgary (1-2-1).
The two Northwest Division rivals lock up again Saturday night in Edmonton.
“We know we were right in this game, it was two points that we lost that I think we should have had so we’re going to get on the plane, get to Edmonton, and have a good one tomorrow,” Bertuzzi said.
Calgary crept back to within a goal at 7:41 of the third period when Bertuzzi exhibited a quick set of hands fishing a loose puck out of a scramble and tucking it inside the goal post for his fourth goal of the season.
However, they couldn’t get another goal past Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who won his first NHL start. After getting two great games from goaltender Mathieu Garon, MacTavish surprised many by starting the rookie goalie but it paid off as Drouin-Deslauriers made 26 saves for the victory.
“It’s always something special when you have your first NHL start. You think you know what to expect but it’s something very different, the feeling is unbelievable,” said the 24-year-old. “The guys played amazing today, they played hard, they were everywhere. They helped me with every aspect of my game. It was a big team win.”
MacTavish said his young goaltender gave them everything they hoped for.
“He played fine, he did what he had to do,” MacTavish said. “He made a big save off Conroy at the end on a goal-mouth pass. He’s got that ability where he can get side-to-side. He’s got a lot of ability and is going to be a good goalie.”
Cogliano said the Oilers earned all the extra man opportunities.
“We were winning battles to the puck, moving our feet, and they were taking penalties and hooking us,” said Cogliano. “It could go either way, we’ve been on the other side a couple times this year and especially last year. But tonight we were moving our feet, playing well, and working hard.”
It appeared Calgary was going to escape the first period with a 1-0 lead despite being outshot when a sloppy Flames breakout attempt turned into in the tying goal for Edmonton. Aucoin’s outlet pass to Moss was into his feet allowing Oilers defenceman Jason Strudwick to step up and intercept it and fire a shot on goal that was tipped by Cogliano.
Calgary regained a 2-1 lead 5:39 on Moss’ goal from a sharp angle.
Souray did not play in the third period due to an undisclosed injury.
Notes: Kiprusoff had allowed at least one goal in his first 11 periods this season before shutting out Edmonton in the third. .. It is the first time in his career that Kiprusoff has given up four or more goals in four consecutive games. .. Nilsson’s high-sticking penalty at 3:57 of the third ended a stretch of over four periods between shorthanded chances for Edmonton. They received 10 power-play chances during that span. .. Calgary and Edmonton are playing each other on consecutive nights for the first time since December 1992. .. For the second game in a row, Edmonton opted to dress rookie forward Steve MacIntyre in place of Zack Stortini.