Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Game 59: Edmonton 6 Calgary 1

Well, that was long overdue! After seemingly finding ways to lose game after game to their provincial rivals, the Edmonton Oilers finally found a way to not only defeat the Calgary Flames but absolutely lay a beating on them. If not for netminder Miikka Kiprusoff, last night's 6-1 drubbing would have been a whole lot worse. Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner led the way with three points a piece in a game that featured at least one goal from Edmonton's top three lines. Associate coach Ralph Krueger, finally earned his first NHL victory after losing his previous five attempts while filling in for head coach Tom Renney. The victory was the Oilers first in last their last ten games against Calgary. Their last "W" against the Flames came during last year's season opener.

After a non-eventful opening five or so minutes, it would actually be the Flames who opened the scoring just before the midway point of the period. Scott Hannan's point shot somehow eluded Devan Dubnyk to give Calgary the early 1-0 lead. Not exactly a great start for the club or its netminder but they would start to turn the tide, after killing off Ladislav Smid's delay of game penalty at the 11:35 mark. From that point on, the Oilers took the proceedings over but the Flames netminder shut the door, as he has all season long

Edmonton would finally break through, when Eberle roofed a backhand past Kipper after being stoned on his initial attempt. The goal was his twenty-sixth of the season and came with just over a minute left in the opening frame. The score was 1- but the Oilers held 17-7 advantage on the shot clock and a wide margin of the territorial play.

It was much of the same to open the second, as Edmonton continued to pour it on but Kiprusoff was up to the task. While a standout performance by the Calgary netminder tends to usually frustrate the Oilers, they continued doing their thing and were finally rewarded when Ales Hemsky notched only his fifth of the season, just past the eight minute mark. Shawn Horcoff sprung Taylor Hall on a two-on-one break and the sophomore winger sent a beautiful cross ice pass to a streaking Hemsky, who buried it past a helpless Kiprusoff.

Just over four minutes later, it was 3-1 courtesy of the much maligned Eric Belanger. On yet another two-on-one break, Ben Eager's initial attempt was stopped but Belanger was Johnny-on-the-spot and banged in his third on the campaign. With the Flames reeling, Edmonton kept coming and extended their lead thirty seconds later. Eberle found an unmarked Gagner in the slot with a nifty little feed and the talented made no mistake beating a stunned  Kiprusoff, for his fourteenth of the season.

They would score on more time before the period was out, when Ryan Smyth notched his seventeenth of the season to celebrate his thirty-sixth birthday. Defenceman Jeff Petry started a four-on-two rush and found Gagner, who then hit Smyth at the doorstep for an easy tap in. That made it 5-1 and marked the end of the night for Kiprusoff. Edmonton had out shot the Flames 34-11 and had been the far better team throught forty.

Edmonton would make it an even half dozen, when Hall scored his twenty-first on the season late in the third to make it a five goal lead. The goal was Taylor's eleventh on the power play, which puts him fourth in the league and just three behind leader Scott Hartnell of the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Oilers head back home for a brief two game homestand, where they will take on the Flyers Thursday night and the Phoenix Coyotes Sunday afternoon.

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