The battle of Alberta, as the Canucks call it, sees the Calgary Flames at the Edmonton Oilers, in Rexall Place. Flames are looking to strengthen the lead in their division, while the Oilers are still clinging to the 8th and final spot in the playoff race. In net for the Flames is Miikka Kiprusoff, who has faced more shots than any other goaltender this season, and he'll be facing off against Dwayne Roloson. I love watching two Canadian teams square off, because there is so much damn intensity.
Dwayne Roloson was the key to this period. He was a fucking brick wall in net, stopping what seemed like one timer after one timer from the stick of Mike Cammalleri. As much as Roloson dominated, I really can't stand the way he handles the puck - he's clumsy and makes bad decisions. The Flames could not match the physical play of the Oilers, so instead they beat them in speed to the puck, especially with their consistent forecheck. Young players should take some notes on the Flames forecheck, because they always bothered the Oilers' defensemen, deep in their own zone, making it difficult to get the puck into neutral ice.
The one goal in the period came right after a penalty against the Flames, off a pretty give-and-go between Erik Cole and Shawn Horcoff. Cole got his 14th goal of the season, beating Kiprusoff top-shelf to the blocker side, getting the puck just inside the cross bar - pretty play all around.
Calgary brought a whole new level of offensive energy, including a tough break for Craig Conroy, who beat Roloson's glove, but hit the crossbar. Jarome Iginla was relatively quiet for the Flames in the first period, but got himself in the middle of every rush when he was on the ice in the second. It was nice to see the Oilers starting to really test Kiprusoff after the Flames initial energy surge sizzled down.
With the increased aggressive attack from the Flames, it was inevitable that they were going to beat Roloson. With a little over three minutes in the period, Cory Sarich passes it to himself off the boards, gets the puck between the defenseman's legs, and right on Iginla's tape for an easy one-timer to tie this game up. Both goalies are playing a great game to keep this at only 1-1. Flames got another two golden scoring opportunities before the period was over, and even though the game is still tied going into the third, the momentum is now heavily in the Flames favor.
Oilers catch the Flames off-guard, with Ales Hemsky scoring his 18th goal in just the second minute of the period. This was off another fantastic pass from Shawn Horcoff, and Hemsky had a quick release to beat Kiprusoff low on the blocker side. Erik Cole could have really broke this game open when he had a clean breakaway less than a minute after the Oilers first goal of the period, but he got held right before he could get the shot off. The Oilers could smell blood, and kept forcing Kiprusoff to make amazing saves to keep the Flames in this game. Then aside from the occasional big hit from the Oilers, it looked like they were on a penalty kill for the last ten minutes of the period. I really hated watching this from the Oilers because it made the game extremely one-sided as they played to protect the lead rather than win the game. The game seemed pretty much in the bank for the Oilers, but with 1:05 left in the game Matthew Lombardi ties up the game for the Flames beating Roloson above his left shoulder. We're going into overtime, folks!
Overtime & Shootout
The overtime period was pretty uneventful, aside from one scoring chance for the Oilers and a big hit from Oilers' Sheldon Souray which knocked the helmet off of Flames' Adam Pardy. Then all of a sudden, with 5 seconds to go, Iginla passes to a WIDE OPEN Cammalleri, who gets robbed point-blank against Roloson. No idea how the Oilers let Cammalleri get this open, but Roloson saved the day for his team.
In the shootout, the Oilers shot themselves in the foot. First Sam Gagner just lost the puck, then Robert Nilsson AND Ales Hemsky got the puck poke-checked away. What a pathetic shootout from the Oilers, losing them the game 3-2 with the Flames' Todd Bertuzzi scoring the only goal in the shootout.
It seemed like the Oilers never really came to play this game. There was little intensity from them, aside from their hard-hitting, and the Flames looked more like the team that urgently needed the win to stay in the playoff hunt. It was nice to see Jarome Iginla step up his game and get a much-needed goal. Dwayne Roloson was the only reason this game was close, because the Oilers did not deserve the one point they got from the game.