CALGARY – A pool of blood on the ice and packed penalty boxes: It was just like the good old days of the Flames-Oilers rivalry Friday night as Calgary wrapped up its pre-season with a 4-3 overtime victory over Edmonton.
Former Oiler Curtis Glencross scored the winner at 2:22 pouncing on a loose puck at centre, racing in on a breakaway, and beating embattled rookie goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers on a nifty deke to his backhand.
“I was a little surprised I had as much time as I had. Seeing I had lots of space I kind of put my head down and went to the net. He was coming out a long way so I figured I’d have to deke him,” said Glencross, whose has two goals, four assists and six points in six games after signing with Calgary this past summer as a free agent.
Also scoring for Calgary (5-2) was Jarome Iginla with a pair and Jamie Lundmark. Kyle Brodziak, Andrew Cogliano, and Marc-Andre Pouliot replied for Edmonton (1-2-3).
There was certainly no shortage of intrigue or emotion.
In front of a boisterous Pengrowth Saddledome sell-out crowd of 19,289, the game had a little everything – a missed penalty shot, an injury scare as Calgary’s Todd Bertuzzi hobbled off the ice with what looked more serious at the time but was announced as only a bruised leg, and then there was the ejection of Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish, the highlight of an emotional second period that featured four fights and a barrage of penalties.
“It was ‘game on’ like the old days here, and sometimes that’s good for both teams at the end of the day,” said MacTavish.
The nastiness started in the second period ignited by Pouliot’s goal at 1:30 that put the Oilers up 3-1.
Immediately after the goal in which Pouliot whacked in a second rebound from a scramble in front of goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, rugged Flames defenceman Jim Vandermeer went right after Pouliot throwing punches at the Oilers forward, an unlikely combatant who had not been in a fight before in 54 regular season NHL games.
In the short one-sided fight, Vandermeer cut Pouliot twice, once above each eye leaving a pool of blood on the ice in the corner of the rink. Each cut took eight stitches to close.
“I’m not going to back off, he pushed me, I pushed him back, I had to go,” said Pouliot. “He obviously is a tough guy that has more experience than me and he made a good punch, but those things happen.”
The emotions on the Oilers bench continued to get hotter after that with MacTavish eventually being ejected from the game at 3:45 for unsportsmanlike conduct, a penalty assessed at the same time as a pair of Oiler minor penalties that gave the Flames a two-man advantage.
“It was the level of frustration on my part with the liberties that I feel the Flames get away with on our players,” said MacTavish. “Then Pouliot scores a goal and Vandermeer grabs him and there’s a mismatch there. My sense was that we were going to have to defend ourselves based on that. … I thought it was completely unfair and I was frustrated by it.”
When the two teams finally returned to even strength late in the period, that’s when the fireworks picked back up with three fights in the span of 36 seconds, the last two coming right off a face-off as Dustin Penner squared off with Brandon Prust and new Flames pugilist Andre Roy tangled with Oilers captain Ethan Moreau.
“Being the battle of Alberta, a lot of emotions were shown,” said Brodziak. “There’s a lot of pride on the line and guys really played hard and that’s what you have to expect when teams are battling that hard.”
Iginla says the physical plays is what got Calgary back into it.
“It helped fire us up when we started getting more physical. We started skating better and getting the puck behind them,” Iginla said. “We’re going to see them a lot and they’re going to see us a lot and I imagine that will be a similar game to what we see all year – pretty intense and pretty emotional. It was fun.”
It appears that Calgary did dodge a bullet after seeing high profile off-season acquisition Bertuzzi head immediately to the dressing room in the second period after taking a slapshot from teammate Marc Giordano off his right leg.
“Todd has got a bruised leg,” said Flames coach Mike Keenan. “We were hoping for the best and that it wasn’t a fracture and it wasn’t a fracture.”
A controversial off-season free agent signing, Bertuzzi had turned in an impressive training camp and is in line for a spot on one of the Flames top two lines.
Trailing 3-1, Calgary cut the gap to one on Lundmark’s power-play goal at 9:16 of the second before Iginla’s second at 5:58 of the third tied it.
Drouin-Deslauriers played the full game in net for Edmonton and was outstanding, finishing the night with 43 saves. Kiprusoff had 21 saves in going the distance for the Flames.
Iginla scored first at 8:29 on a harmless-looking snap shot from a sharp angle. Cogliano then tied it with a snapshot from the same distance and same spot on the ice that Kiprusoff mishandled.
Notes: Among the Flames regulars not in the line-up were C Daymond Langkow, C Matthew Lombardi, and D Dion Phaneuf. … Notable scratches for the Oilers included C Shawn Horcoff, LW Erik Cole, D Sheldon Souray, and D Lubomir Visnovsky. … Edmonton wraps up its pre-season in Dallas on Sunday. … Calgary rookie C Mikael Backlund, 19, who entered training camp as a legitimate candidate to crack the Flames line-up, did not play and is expected to be returned to Sweden for the season. … The Flames finish the pre-season having killed off 37 of 39 penalties.