Oilers crush hobbled Flames
They will miss the post-season for the third consecutive season, but the Edmonton Oilers still love sticking it to their provincial foes from Calgary whenever possible.
Edmonton put a dent in the Flames' chances of winning the Northwest Division crown with a 5-1 win Friday night at Rexall Place.
The teams meet again Saturday in Calgary (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 8 p.m. MT), but by that time the Vancouver Canucks may have clinched the division ahead of the Flames.
Ales Kotalik, Steve MacIntyre, Shawn Horcoff , Patrick O'Sullivan and Sheldon Souray did all the damage offensively for the Oilers. Goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made 31 saves on the night.
Horcoff and Souray also added two assists apiece.
"Obviously we wanted to have a strong effort to finish at home, especially against Calgary," Kotalik said. "We wanted to show that we still care and have heart, and we did that."
Mike Cammalleri spoiled Deslauriers's shutout bid with his team-leading 37th goal of the season.
Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff finished with 28 stops for Calgary but was pulled in the third period.
The loss keeps Calgary (45-30-6) two points behind the Vancouver Canucks (44-27-10, 98 points) in the race for the division title. The Canucks gained the advantage with a 1-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday night.
"We lost control of our situation tonight," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said. "We have to wait and see what Vancouver does now. That's unfortunate from our side. Hopefully we still have an opportunity to win our division."
The depleted Flames can only clinch first place if Vancouver loses its final game of the season to the last-place Colorado Avalanche, and then Calgary defeats the Oilers in the back end of their home-and-home series at the Pengrowth Saddledome on Saturday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca, 10 p.m. ET).
Should Calgary fail to overtake the Canucks, the NHL club will drop to the fifth seed in the Western Conference and start the playoffs on the road against the fourth-seeded Chicago Blackhawks, who secured their placing with the Flames' loss.
Due to a rash of injuries and salary cap issues, Calgary was forced to dress only 15 skaters on Friday.
Defenceman Dion Phaneuf and winger Curtis Glencross were the latest Flames casualties as both missed Friday's contest. Phaneuf, however, is expected back for Saturday's return tilt with Edmonton.
"We were missing some key players, which was tough," Kiprusoff said. "But it can't be used as an excuse. It was a huge game for us and we didn't play that strong."
Iginla said it has been a long time since he's been involved in a game where a team didn't bring out a fourth line.
"I think the last time I played in a situation like that was at the atom age for the St. Albert Cougars," he said. "I don't know how many times something like that has ever happened at this level."
After playing almost 35 minutes of scoreless hockey, the Oilers broke through on a play made possible by Deslauriers's terrific glove save off Calgary centre Olli Jokinen.
With Edmonton in transition, Kotalik one-timed an Ales Hemsky pass by Kiprusoff at 14:21.
The Oilers wasted little time in pouring it on, padding their lead 26 seconds later.
Centre Kyle Brodziak outmuscled Calgary defenceman James Vandermeer from behind the net and backhanded the puck back to Steve MacIntyre, who squeezed his second NHL goal between Kiprusoff's right pad and the post.
"It was one of those weird nights," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "That might have been the least physical game these two teams have ever played against each other. That was a tough one to explain."
Regardless of whether the Flames win the division or drop to the fifth seed, the team won't go far in the playoffs if its inept power play continues to fire blanks.
Calgary went 0-4 against the Oilers, extending its ugly man-advantage goalless streak to 41 consecutive misses.
Some of the Flames' problems can be attributed to their banged-up defensive unit, with Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich still missing from the lineup. Adrian Aucoin only returned during the team's 4-1 loss to Vancouver on Tuesday.
"We have players that are expected to score goals and bury their chances, and they aren't doing it right now," Calgary coach Mike Keenan said. "They have to come out with a lot more determination about that part of their game."
Horcoff and Cammalleri exchanged goals in the third before O'Sullivan put the Oilers comfortably ahead 4-1 at 13:32.
O'Sullivan's goal forced Kiprusoff out of the game, but the change didn't slow the Oilers down.
Souray finished the scoring with a power-play blast by backup Curtis McElhinney with less than four minutes remaining.
The teams combined to score four third-period goals in a span of 4:10.
With files from the Canadian Press