Miikka Kiprusoff made 32 saves to collect his sixth shutout of the season as the Calgary Flames blanked the Edmonton Oilers 4-0 Saturday in the latest chapter of the Battle of Alberta.
It was the second win in as many nights for the Flames (26-17-4), who have won seven of their last nine.
The win gave the Flames a piece of the Northwest Division lead heading into the all-star break, though Flames forward Marcus Nilson says it is still too early in the season to early to let up.
“It’s where you are at the end of the season that matters,” he said. “Whatever happens before that doesn’t matter if you don’t end up where you want. But it is nice to be back in first.”
Dustin Boyd, Alex Tanguay, Matthew Lombardi and Dion Phaneuf scored for Calgary.
Flames head coach Jim Playfair was glad to see how his team recovered after being pushed hard by the Oilers in the early running.
“We played the night before and they were trying to take advantage of that,” he said. “We bent a little bit but then started to push them back and at the end of the night we got what we needed.”
Calgary defenceman Robyn Regehr was with the majority in crediting Kiprusoff’s performance for the win.
“He really dominated the game,” he said. “I can’t say enough about his play. He was by far the best player on the ice.”
Edmonton (23-21-4) had a short two-game winning streak snapped.
“We made too many mistakes and they capitalized,” said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. “They were more capitalistic. If you are not going to play a hard game, you had better do something offensively. We had a lot of guys who were right in between tonight. It’s a bad recipe.”
MacTavish has been disappointed with his team’s play against the Flames all season.
“We’ve scored two five-on-five goals in six games against this team,” he said. “You’re not going to win a lot of games that way. We are lucky to have two wins right now in the six games we’ve played them with stats like that.”
After a slow start, Calgary was finally able to kick off the scoring at 15:09 of the first period. Lombardi picked up the rebound from a Roman Hamrlik power-play point shot and pulled the puck past a sprawling Dwayne Roloson on the backhand before tucking it in to give the Flames the 1-0 lead.
Edmonton’s sloppy play in their own end finally caught up with them 13 minutes into the second period. Calgary took a 2-0 lead when Boyd’s wrist shot from the right circle seemed to catch Roloson off guard as the puck snuck through his legs and trickled into the net.
The Flames took a three goal lead with 1:27 left in the second. Kristian Huselius extended his scoring streak to seven games as he slid a beautiful backhand pass through the legs of Edmonton defender Jason Smith to Tanguay, who scored his 13th of the season.
Roloson hurt his own cause three and a half minutes into the third, taking a diving call at the same time Calgary was flagged for goaltender interference. The Flames scored on the resulting 4-on-4 as Phaneuf pinched in on a rush and beat the Oilers netminder through his legs.
Jussi Markkanen came in to replace Roloson after the goal.
Both teams return to action following the all-star break on Friday as the Oilers play the third game of a five game home stand against San Jose and the Flames travel to Minnesota.
NOTES: The home team had emerged victorious in the five previous meetings between the rival teams this season with the Oilers winning both games in Edmonton and the Flames the three encounters in Calgary before the Flames collected the first road win on Saturday. The Flames now lead the all-time Battle of Alberta 80-76-19-1a Calgary’s Kristian Huselius has been very productive of late, with 21 points in his last 16 games. The 20 goals he has
scored this season matches his output from all of last season and has him closing in on his career high of 23 from his rookie season with Florida.