CALGARY – Rene Bourque’s fast start to the season continued Saturday night.
The Calgary forward scored once and set-up a pair of goals by Nigel Dawes as the Flames scored three times in the second period on their way to a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Acquired two summers ago from the Chicago Blackhawks, Bourque is off to a blazing start offensively, leading the club with 14 points (five goals, nine assists).
“I feel pretty good right now,” said Bourque, who had 21 goals in 58 games last season, which was shortened due to a high ankle sprain.
“I want to take this team farther in the playoffs this year and I think we have the group of guys that can do it.”
Calgary and Edmonton entered the game with identical 6-2-1 records, but it was the Flames that again prevailed against their provincial rivals, as they did twice previously in Edmonton.
Tied 1-1 after the first period, the Flames seized control of the game in the second, outshooting Edmonton 19-9 and scoring three straight goals.
Calgary took its first lead at 3:53 when Dawes got open behind defenceman Theo Peckham and had an empty net as Bourque neatly set him up from behind the net.
“He’s hard to get off the puck,” said Dawes describing the six-foot-two, 213 pound Bourque. “He’s a great skater, he gets in there on the forecheck and when he gets the puck, he’s got the long stick and a quick release. Obviously he’s a playmaker as well.”
Thirty-six seconds later, Dustin Boyd stripped the puck from defenceman Tom Gilbert deep in the Oilers zone and took the puck to the net where his rebound was jammed in by Eric Nystrom.
“We gave up two fast goals and then stopped playing,” said Edmonton coach Pat Quinn. “We started to play solo hockey and that’s not the way we’re going to win and I don’t know any team that does win that way.”
David Moss also scored for Calgary (7-2-1). A perfect 3-0 on its season-high five-game homestand, next up for the Flames is a showdown with the Northwest division-leading Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday. The Flames are 5-0 against the Northwest Division.
“These points are huge, especially early in the season,” said Bourque. “It’s going to be a long climb for some teams that are starting out slowly. It’s hard to get points later in the year.”
Lubomir Visnovsky and Dustin Penner replied for Edmonton (6-3-1). The Oilers are on the road again Sunday night in Vancouver.
“We seemed to have breakdowns at the wrong time, missed chances at the wrong times, but we’re pretty happy with our effort,” said Gagner. “It’s a tough building to play in, and we answered the game physically. We have to take some positives out of this one, especially with the fact we play have another big game in less than 24 hours.”
Calgary made it 4-1 at 10:23 of the second on a waist-high deflection by Moss off a slapshot from Dion Phaneuf. The goal came on the first man advantage of the night for Calgary, which entered the game tied for first in the NHL on the power play.
Ahead three goals, Calgary appeared to have the game in hand until penalty trouble late in the second gave Edmonton a chance to get back into the game.
Flames defenceman Aaron Johnson was serving a cross-checking penalty when a puck squirted out to Penner in front, who notched his team-leading eighth goal at 18:35.
Olli Jokinen took another penalty 12 seconds later. A minute after that Cory Sarich was assessed a double minor for high sticking.
The Oilers opened the third period on a two-man advantage but failed to generate any dangerous scoring chances.
“”If they get a quick goal there, they still have a four-minute power play, but Miikka was there to make the saves and Connie (Craig Conroy) did a good job on that 5-on-3 and after that we were in pretty good shape,” said Bourque.
Calgary salted the game away on the second goal for Dawes at 12:27.
“We missed some opportunities when we were down 4-2, the 5-on-3 chance and those are things you can’t really miss,” said Gagner.
The Flames ended up an efficient 2-for-3 with the extra man while Edmonton was 2-for-8.
Calgary outshot Edmonton 38-25, just the second time this season the Flames have outshot their opponent. The Oilers have yet to outshoot an opponent through their first 10 games.
After falling behind early, Calgary tied it at 11:54 of the first period on a pretty short-handed goal by Bourque. As the Flames moved up ice on a 2-on-1, Bourque outraced Denis Grebeshkov to the net where he steered a perfectly placed return pass from Daymond Langkow behind Nikolai Khabibulin.
Edmonton jumped out to an early 1-0 advantage, connecting on a power play at 2:25 of the first period. Ales Hemsky spotted Visnovsky breaking in undetected from the far point and zipped him a cross-ice pass that the Russian defenceman one-timed past Miikka Kiprusoff.
Notes: The return of Moss (upper body) after missing five games bumped Brandon Prust to the sidelines. Prust was coming off a game in which he received a season-high 9:40 in ice time… With forwards Mike Comrie and Gilbert Brule both out with the flu, Edmonton dressed seven defencemen including Peckham, who was recalled Friday from Springfield (AHL)… Edmonton falls to 5-2-1 when scoring first… Craig Conroy is the one of the Flames 13 forwards without a goal.