CALGARY – An ugly goal for the Calgary Flames and goaltender Reto Berra was a thing of beauty for the desperate Edmonton Oilers.
From near the corner and below the goal line, David Perron flung the puck towards the net, banking it off Berra’s shoulder and in for the go-ahead goal as Edmonton snapped a five-game losing streak Saturday night with a 4-2 come-from-behind victory over the Calgary Flames.
Boyd Gordon capped the scoring into an empty net as the Oilers stormed back with four unanswered goals in the third period to steal the first of five meetings between the provincial rivals.
“I’d be kidding if I said I knew I would score but I saw a little bit of room, I put it there and it was in the net so it felt good,” said Perron.
Just over two minutes earlier, the Oilers tied the game 2-2 on another strange one.
Sam Gagner’s shot deflected off Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman and fluttered high in the air. While Berra couldn’t find it, Ales Hemsky batted it in from out of mid-air for his first goal in 12 games.
Edmonton started its comeback at 3:41 when Jordan Eberle, who was uncovered in the slot, took a drop pass from Taylor Hall and ripped a shot over Berra’s blocker.
The three-goal barrage happened in a span of 6:42 and came on four shots.
“We gave them two goals out of three,” said Flames coach Bob Hartley, visibly unhappy. “After 40 minutes, I felt that we gave them nothing. We were playing our style. Then, their first goal and third goal, there’s only one word for those two goals – awful.”
Edmonton (5-15-2), which began the night in last place in the NHL, won for just the second time in its last 12 (2-9-1).
Sean Monahan and Wideman scored for Calgary (6-11-3). The Flames are winless in their last six, and are 0-4-1 in their last five games at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“We have a lot of pressure on us from our team itself, from the organization, from the fans, they expect us to win and when you’re not winning, it kills the confidence on your team,” said Eberle. “You start making plays that you’re not used to making, you start squeezing the stick and you start not playing as a team.”
Eberle himself had been in a lengthy slump with just one goal in his previous 12 games.
“Momentum is a huge thing in this game. When things aren’t going, you sometimes get pissed off and try to do things yourself and that’s when things start breaking down even more,” said Eberle. “So when you finally get rewarded and get some confidence, we’re going to use that.”
Oilers coach Dallas Eakins says the smallest of things can turn around a team’s fortunes and he hopes this result will provide that boost for his team. He used Philadelphia’s recent 3-0-1 run as an example.
“We were in a close game with them. We end up losing the game, they had been on the down and out and it seemed like every time I look at the scoreboard lately, they’ve been winning,” Eakins said. “When you get that winning feeling again, it’s contagious. Just like when you have that losing feeling, it’s contagious too.”
The first of five meetings between the provincial rivals featured the teams ranked 13th and 14th in the Western Conference.
The Flames remain three points up on Oilers, although they are 12 points back of a playoff spot.
“Great start. In the first two periods, I thought we were the better team. Then, in 10 or 12 minutes, we lost the game, so that’s really disappointing and nobody in this locker-room can be happy,” said former Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid. “We have to learn how to finish those kind of games. We knew they have lots of talent over there. We should have just played the same game for 60 minutes, no matter what happened.”
Devan Dubnyk had a great night for the Oilers making 33 saves to improve to 4-10-1. It comes on the same night that newly signed Ilya Bryzgalov picked up a win in his second AHL conditioning start, allowing only one goal in Oklahoma City’s 4-1 victory over Abbotsford.
Making his sixth start in the last seven games, Berra had 19 saves to fall to 1-4-1.
Calgary took a 2-0 lead at 17:08 of the second period on a rocket off the stick of Wideman. Dubnyk never saw it as he was screened on the play by Lee Stempniak.
Sean Monahan gave the Flames a 1-0 lead at 12:23.
It was the first goal in seven games for Calgary’s 2013 first round draft pick and just his second in the last 12 after he started the season with six in his first eight.
It also marked the first time Calgary held a lead after the first period in three weeks. In the previous eight games, the Flames had been outscored 11-1 in the opening 20 minutes.
The game began with a throwback to the old days of the Battle of Alberta as heavyweights Brian McGrattan and Luke Gazdic squared off in a lengthy fight that fired up the crowd.
Notes: Healthy scratches for Calgary were RW Tim Jackman and D Sean O’Brien… LW Ryan Jones was not in the line-up for Edmonton… After several years of Calgary domination, Edmonton has won five of the last seven games between the two teams … Flames LW TJ Galiardi hasn’t scored in his last 18 games. Also slumping is D TJ Brodie, who has no points in his last eight games… For Edmonton, Nugent-Hopkins has one goal in his last 13 games.