Flames bust out against listless rivals
Score 3 times in 2nd period en route to 6-1 drubbing of Oilers
Jarome Iginla busted out of a slump and in doing so led the Flames to a historic victory over Edmonton in the storied Battle of Alberta.
Iginla had two goals and two assists Saturday night as Calgary snapped a nine-game winless skid with a 6-1 win over the reeling Oilers.
The Flames finish a perfect 6-0 against Edmonton in the season series, the first time in the 29-year existence of the Battle of Alberta that either team has swept a season series.
Mired in its worst slump (0-6-3) since an 11-game losing streak in 1986, hometown Calgary found a tonic in the lowly Oilers, the only NHL team struggling worse.
"It was a big game for our team," said Iginla, who had been struggling as of late with one goal and six points in the previous 13 games. "There was a lot of talk; we knew neither team had won in a long time."
For the umpteenth time this season, Iginla opened the game with new linemates.
Head coach Brent Sutter's latest experiment had recently recalled Swedish rookie Mikael Backlund, 20, at centre with Dustin Boyd, 23, patrolling left wing.
The trio connected on their second shift. Denis Grebeshkov's attempted clear around the boards was blocked by Boyd. Backlund centred a pass to Iginla, who chipped the puck across the crease to Boyd for an easy tap-in.
Boyd's second goal at 6:48 of the second period came on a botched pass between Sheldon Souray and Sam Gagner and was the first of three second-period goals for the Flames as they took a 5-1 lead.
"A reporter asked me before the game if I felt like a young buck or an old geezer beside them, but it was neither," the 32-year-old Iginla told Scott Oake and Kelly Hrudey of Hockey Night in Canada. "They're flying [with] so much confidence and they make you feel a little bit older but it's fun. It reminds of when I jumped in the league [in 1996]. I played with Dave Gagner and I think he was 32. I thought that was pretty old at the time.
"Backlund's [confident and speedy] and he's got a great shot. And Boydy, he's been an offensive guy wherever he's played — AHL, WHL, world juniors — and you can just see his confidence growing."
Calgary had been in an offensive funk lately, especially at home where the Flames entered the night with just six goals in their last six games and 15 in their last 11 at the Pengrowth Saddledome.
The offensive eruption marked the first time Calgary scored more than three goals on home ice since a 5-2 win over Edmonton on Oct. 24.
Dion Phaneuf and Rene Bourque also scored for Calgary (27-20-8), which moves past Detroit and back into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"Guys are still positive," Iginla told HNIC. "We look at the conference [and] we know a run [of victories] and we can climb right back in it and move up [the standings].
"It's a huge win. We know there's a lot of talk about both teams not winning. For us, it's three games in a row we've gotten points, so it's something to build on and we want to keep going."
Gagner had the lone goal Edmonton (16-31-6). In seven straight road defeats, the Oilers have scored just seven goals.
Edmonton is last overall in the NHL, seven points back of the Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs, and closing in on the team record for consecutive games without a win, which is 14 set in 1993.
"There's only one place to go and that's up," said Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert. "We just have to keep working through this. There are things we can do to correct our game, to make it better, and it all starts in practice."
Said Oilers head coach Pat Quinn: "You get down, you don't like what's going on. You start feeling sorry for yourselves. All of those emotions come to play and that's when it's hard to fight."
"It sounds trite, but it's absolutely true. If you get afraid of the end result then you don't do the things you need to do and when you don't do them, you don't have a chance."
Edmonton has gone winless in 13 games (0-11-2) and have just one win in its past 21 games (1-18-2).
Iginla capped off a four-point night converting Boyd's pass at 9:40 of the third period.
The Flames captain had just come out of the penalty box after energizing the sell-out crowd of 19,289 with a spirited fight with Souray. The veteran Oilers defenceman suffered a fractured hand in the scrap and will be re-examined Sunday in Edmonton.
"Iggy plays with a lot of emotion. It was one heck of a fight, all the boys were pumped up," said Boyd.
Calgary broke the game open in the second period scoring three unanswered goals to open up a 5-1 lead.
Devan Dubnyk finished with 24 saves to fall to 0-6-1.
Miikka Kiprusoff turned aside 27 shots to improve to 24-16-8.