EDMONTON – The Edmonton Oilers may be out of the playoff picture but they still had the chance to influence it on Friday night.
Shawn Horcoff and Sheldon Souray each had a goal and two assists as the Oilers threw a wrench into Calgary’s hopes to finish first in the Northwest Division with a 5-1 victory over the shorthanded Flames.
Ales Kotalik, Steve MacIntyre and Patrick O’Sullivan also scored for the Oilers (38-34-9) who showed some pride in bouncing back from a loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday that formally eliminated them from the playoffs.
“Obviously we wanted to have a strong effort to finish at home, especially against Calgary,” Kotalik said. “We wanted to show that we still care and have heart and we did that tonight.”
Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said the game was a far cry from what you would normally expect from the provincial rivals.
“It was one of those weird nights,” he said. “That might have been the least physical game these two teams have ever played against each other. That was a tough one to explain tonight.”
Michael Cammalleri replied for the Flames (45-30-6) who have lost three of their last four and remained two points back of Vancouver for the Northwest lead. The Flames also lost the chance to secure the fourth seed in the West, which now belongs to Chicago.
“We lost control of our situation tonight,” said Calgary captain Jarome Iginla. “We have to wait and see what Vancouver does now. That’s unfortunate from our side. Hopefully we still have an opportunity to win our division.”
Calgary played the game with only 15 skaters due to a recent spate of injuries and salary cap issues.
“We were missing some key players, which was tough,” said Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. “But it can’t be used as an excuse. It was a huge game for us and we didn’t play that strong.”
Ignila said it has been a long time since he has been in a game where a team didn’t have a fourth line.
“I think the last time I played in a situation like that was at the atom age for the St. Albert Cougars,” he said. “I don’t know how many times something like that has ever happened at this level.”
Head coach Mike Keenan felt some of his veterans needed to step up in a situation like the one they were in on Friday.
“We have players that are expected to score goals and bury their chances and they aren’t doing it right now,” he said. “They have to come out with a lot more determination about that part of their game.”
There was no scoring in a relatively uneventful first period, the best chance belonging to the Oilers during a scramble in front with four minutes to play before Kiprusoff was able to dive out and smother a loose puck with Horcoff on the doorstep.
Edmonton put 14 first period shots on the Calgary net while the Flames had nine on Oilers starter Jeff Deslauriers, making his first start in more than four months.
Calgary had a good chance to get on the scoreboard with just over six minutes left to play in the second when Olli Jokinen was stopped on a point blank shot by a huge Deslauriers glove save.
The Oilers scored the game’s first goal as Ales Hemsky made a nice pass back to a trailing Kotalik and he was able to blast his 20th of the season past Kiprusoff.
Edmonton went up 2-0 less than two minutes later with four minutes to play in the second as Kyle Brodziak found MacIntyre with a pass from behind the net and the bruising forward was able to send a shot between Kiprusoff and the post for this second career NHL goal.
The Oilers took a three-goal lead as Souray out-muscled a pair of defenders on a rush and slid the puck to Horcoff for the goal with eight minutes left.
The Flames finally broke Deslauriers’ shutout bid less than a minute later as Jokinen passed the puck from behind the net and Cammalleri’s quick shot made it 3-1.
Edmonton restored its three-goal advantage with five minutes to pay as O’Sullivan brought the puck out from behind the net and spun around to beat Kiprusoff.
Souray ended any hopes of a Calgary comeback when he scored on a blast from the point on the power play to make it 5-1 with less than four minutes to play.
The two teams wrap up the regular season with the second of their home-and-home series on Saturday night in Calgary.
Notes: Recent Quad Cities call-up John Negrin took the place of defenceman Dion Phaneuf’s spot in the Flames lineup. Phaneuf is thought to be nursing an injury. The Flames were also short blue-liners Robyn Regehr (lower body) and Cory Sarich (ankle). Also out for the Flames were forwards Curtis Glencross and Andre Roy, leaving Calgary with just 15 skaters for the game. The last time an NHL team dressed 15 players was Jan. 23, 1986 as the shorthanded Blues defeated the L.A. Kings 4-3. . . . Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made his first start since Nov. 30 ending Dwayne Roloson’s string of 36 consecutive starts. . . . Defenceman Taylor Chorney made his NHL debut for Edmonton. . . . Edmonton has missed the post-season for a third straight year, the first time that has occurred since a four-season absence from 1992-93 through 1995-96.