EDMONTON – The Calgary Flames aren’t out of the hole they have dug for themselves yet, but at least now they can see a little light.
Mark Giordano’s second-period goal stood up as the winner as the Flames extended their winning streak to a season-best four games with a narrow 2-1 victory over the rival Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
Tim Jackman also scored for the Flames (18-18-3), who started their winning streak on the heels of three consecutive losses.
“We put ourselves in a big hole but we are climbing up now,”said Flames forward Olli Jokinen.“We are finally at .500. It has been a couple months since we could say that.”
Flames captain Jarome Iginla said that the team seems to be turning a corner.
“It feels like we have been playing a lot better hockey of late,”he said.“We’re not there yet and there is a lot of work to do but it feels good. Everybody is finding ways to contribute. Different nights it is different guys and that’s what winning teams do.”
Ryan Jones responded for the Oilers (12-18-7) who have lost six in a row and eight of their last nine.
Edmonton head coach Tom Renney felt there just weren’t enough players carrying their share of the load.
“Some of (the heavy lifting) was done by the people that need to,”he said.“But others didn’t make it to the rink. We need these people desperately if we are going to have any kind of success. I’m hoping they understand who they are.
“We just couldn’t conjure up the proper connection to the game. Emotionally and physically.”
As has often been the case this season, the Oilers were badly outshot, only managing three shots on net in the first period.
“It’s not just about shots,”said Oiler forward Sam Gagner.“We want to play in their end, not in our end. What happened tonight said that we were not really ready to play physical.”
Calgary controlled the early stages of the game, outshooting Edmonton 11-1 at the halfway point of the first period, and they were finally rewarded with seven minutes left as David Moss made a nice pass to give Jackman the puck alone in front. Jackman made a deft move to slip it past Oilers starter Nikolai Khabibulin.
Edmonton did get one dangerous opportunity in the first as Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff was forced to stop Taylor Hall on a breakaway.
The news didn’t get any better for Edmonton to start the second period as promising rookie Jordan Eberle left the game limping with a left ankle injury and did not return.
The Oilers were able to tie the game 1-1 midway through the second period as Tom Gilbert slipped a backhand pass to Jones, who beat Kiprusoff with a quick shot to the glove side for his career-high ninth goal of the year.
The Flames regained the lead five minutes later as a hard point blast by Giordano caromed off of Dustin Penner and into the Oiler net.
After 40 minutes the shot totals favoured Calgary 26-8.
Edmonton came close to tying the game up again eight minutes into the third as an Andrew Cogliano shot got past Kiprusoff, but the veteran goalie was able to dive back and keep the puck from dribbling in.
The Oilers had a good opportunity with a late power play but couldn’t get the equalizer.
The final shot total was 30-17 for Calgary.
The Flames return to the ice on Monday when they play host to the New York Islanders. Edmonton remains home to welcome Detroit on Tuesday.
Notes: It was the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams with Edmonton winning the first game and Calgary the other two, all played in October. . . With defencemen Ryan Whitney and Jim Vandermeer out of the lineup, the Oilers called up Shawn Belle for the game. Forward Linus Omark went the other way, assigned to Oklahoma City. . . Edmonton rookie Magnus Paajarvi sat out for the first time this season. . . Calgary defenceman Steve Staios is still out with cracked ribs. . . Both goaltenders have had a great deal of success against their Alberta rivals. Calgary’s Miikka Kiprusoff came into the game 7-1-0 is with a 2.58 goals-against average in his last eight against the Oilers. Edmontongoaltender Nikolai Khabibulin had a 23-8-4 career mark against the Flames with a 2.26 GAA before Saturday’s matchup.