EDMONTON - Jordan Eberle may score a lot over his NHL career, but there may not be many goals as pretty as his first one.
Eberle scored a magnificent short-handed goal in his NHL debut, Nikolai Khabibulin made 37 saves and the Edmonton Oilers blanked the rival Calgary Flames 4-0 Thursday.
Eberle's goal gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead and broke open a tight game in the third period. Coming in on a short-handed two-on-one, Eberle hopped past a diving defender, then brought the puck across the Calgary goalmouth and put a backhander past a beaten Miikka Kiprusoff.
"It was one of my nicer goals for sure," Eberle said. "It was one of the more special ones I've had. You don't score your first NHL goal too many times."
Eberle, the Oilers' first round choice in the 2008 draft, added an assist on Shawn Horcoff's power-play goal that made the score 4-0.
"(Eberle is) very smart and has good hockey sense," said Tom Renney, who was victorious in his debut as Oilers coach. "He can process the game at a high speed. I like the way that he thinks the game."
Khabibulin earned the shutout in his first regular season start since going down with an injury last November and subsequently being found guilty of impaired driving in Arizona in February.
"He was very steady and square to the puck," Renney said. "He gave us a lot of confidence. He's been nothing but professional and a real solid teammate through this whole process. I don't expect that is going to change."
Gilbert Brule and Ales Hemsky also scored for the Oilers, who lost all six encounters to the Flames last season en route to a 30th place finish.
"We didn't have a very good start at all," said Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr. "We played to all of their strengths. We wanted to keep them off the power play because they have three really strong lines up front. And we thought we could exploit a weakness by going after their defencemen. But we didn't start doing any of that until the second period."
It looked like Edmonton had the first goal six and a half minutes in. Hemsky sent Dustin Penner in alone and he crashed the net while deking Kiprusoff, but the goal was called back due to a goaltender interference call that had the fans at Rexall Place fuming.
The Oilers went up 1-0 on the power play nine minutes in as Brule snapped a shot from the face-off dot past Kiprusoff. Defenceman Ryan Whitney earned his 200th career NHL point on the play.
Edmonton had a host of great chances in the opening period, outshooting Calgary 19-9.
The momentum turned in the Flames' favour in the second as they outshot the Oilers 18-7, but Khabibulin stood his ground to keep it a 1-0 game after 40 minutes.
After Eberle made it 2-0, Edmonton took a three-goal lead less than two minutes later as Hemsky came down the right side and wired a slapshot that went off Kiprusoff and in.
Edmonton captain Horcoff capped the scoring with a power-play goal just over five minutes into the thrid.
With just over two minutes to play heavyweights Steve MacIntyre for the Oilers and Flame Raitis Ivanans went at it with MacIntyre landing a punch that seemed to knock his opponent out. Ivanans had to be helped off of the ice.
Both teams are off until Sunday when Calgary returns home to play the L.A. Kings and the Oilers host Florida.
Notes: Calgary won all six regular season meetings against the Oilers last year, outscoring the Oilers 24-11. . . It's been nine years since the Flames had a losing record against Edmonton, dating back to the 2000-01 season. . . Shawn Horcoff made his debut as the 13th captain in the history of the Oilers after being named to the position on Tuesday. Hemsky and Ryan Whitney were named the alternate captains. . . It was the NHL debut for all three of Edmonton’s highly-touted rookies, Taylor Hall, Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. . . Flames Olli Jokinen and Adam Pardy were able to return from training camp injuries. Calgary remained a banged-up squad entering the regular season with forwards Daymond Langkow (neck), Matt Stajan (shoulder), David Moss (shoulder) and Ales Kotalik (knee) all out. . . Brendan Morrision, signed as a free agent earlier in the week as injury relief, made his Flames debut.