EDMONTON – After learning their top scorer was out for the rest of the season, the Edmonton Oilers proved they’re not about to give up on the playoffs.
Mathieu Garon made 24 saves as the Edmonton Oilers ended a two-game losing streak with a 5-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night. The win came after the Oilers received the potentially devastating news that all-star Shawn Horcoff was done for the rest of the campaign. He is undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery on Wednesday.
“There are only two ways you can deal with losing your best player,” defenceman Steve Staios said. “One is to use it as a crutch and an excuse and the other way is to come out and give your best. And we did that tonight. Every aspect of our game was going tonight.”
Fernando Pisani, Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky, Staios and Sam Gagner had the goals for Edmonton. Garon picked up his fourth shutout of the season.
It was just the second win in the last five outings for the Oilers (24-26-5), who moved to within six points of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
“It’s a game we needed and points that we needed,” Oilers assistant captain Jarret Stoll said. “On the day that (Horcoff) made it official that he’s gone for the season, it shows that we’re not going to give up. The organization has never had that reputation anyways and in some ways we proved that tonight. We have the guys in here to win games and we feel we can do that. There are teams ahead of us that we feel we are better than and we have to catch them.”
The Flames (26-19-8) lost their second in a row after previously enjoying a four-game winning streak.
Curtis Joseph, 40, made his first start in goal for the Flames after signing with the team last month.
It wouldn’t be an auspicious debut as Edmonton scored five times on 28 shots.
“I would have liked to have come out of the first with nothing against,” he said. “That gave them some life, you could tell. As a goaltender you want to make the big saves.”
Calgary head coach Mike Keenan didn’t blame the veteran, saying nothing went as planned on the night for the Flames.
“Where did anything go right?” he asked. “We just didn’t have any life in the beginning, I have no idea why. That’s the coach’s responsibility to make sure the team’s ready and they weren’t ready so I take full responsibility for the really poor outing.”
Edmonton got on the board 6:24 in as Andrew Cogliano hit Pisani with a pass in front of the net. Joseph made the initial stop but Pisani slid the rebound under his pads.
The Oilers extended their lead to 2-0 with just 35 seconds remaining in the opening frame as Geoff Sanderson took a rebound behind the net and made a deft no-look feed to Penner, who beat Joseph with a hard wrist shot glove-side.
Edmonton made it 3-0 five minutes into the second on the power play as Joseph allowed a big rebound on a point shot by Stoll and rookie Gagner’s shot caromed off of Hemsky and in.
Calgary had a chance to get back into the game early in the third when Stoll took a double-minor for high-sticking, but the Flames were unable to put a puck past Garon.
An already fight-filled affair threatened to erupt completely with seven minutes gone in the third.
Flames forward Eric Godard gave Garon a shove into the post, sparking a number of altercations. Joseph even skated the length of the ice to eye Garon before cooler heads prevailed.
“I don’t think there is any point in fighting the other goalie,” said Garon. “The last year the same thing happened and we didn’t fight then either.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish called the melee a “circus show.”
“It’s maybe a strange tactic for a team like Calgary that depends so heavily on (Miikka Kiprusoff) to be targeting the opposition’s goaltender,” he said. “Those kinds of things have a way of coming back at you.”
For his part, Keenan says he isn’t sure what Godard was thinking.
“It was a very undisciplined play that will cost him in the end because he’s going to be suspended, that’s his third game misconduct and he probably knows that so I have no idea why he acted the way he did. It’s certainly not condoned by our coaching staff and our team.”
Edmonton ended up with a seven-minute power play as a result.
They put the game out of reach as a result with a pair of power-play goals just over a minute apart. The fourth goal came on a point blast from Staios, quickly followed by a goal on a wrist shot by Gagner to make it 5-0.
The Flames return home to face Phoenix on Tuesday night while the Oilers conclude a four-game homestand on Wednesday against Chicago.
Notes: Curtis Glencross made his Oiler debut on Monday. The 25-year-old rookie was acquired in a trade with Columbus for defenceman Dick Tarnstrom on Friday. . . . With his next victory, Joseph will move into a tie with Terry Sawchuk for fourth spot on the NHL’s all-time list with 447. Only Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur and Ed Belfour have more career regular season wins.