A slow start, lack of shots, and injury to star rookie Jordan Eberle did little to help the Oilers open the New Year on a positive note, resulting in a 2-1 loss to the Flames in Saturday night's game, presented by TELUS. Ryan Jones scored Edmonton's lone goal midway through the game, while Nikolai Khabibulin earned second-star honours for his 28-save performance.
Under the Scope
Calgary dominated the game's first seven minutes, firing six shots on Khabibulin before Dustin Penner got one on Miikka Kiprusoff.
The Flames added another six attempts in the following six minutes, including a front-and-center shot by Tim Jackman that slipped home for the opening goal.
At 14:41, Khabibulin played the puck outside trap and was called for delay of game. Calgary attained 17 shots on the man-advantage (compared to Edmonton's two shots), but Khabibulin prevented another marker to keep his club within one.
Taylor Hall served those two minutes for his goaltender and was soon sent back to the penalty box for hooking. Oilers penalty killers did another commendable job and hit Hall with a breakout pass as soon as he surged back into the game. The rookie couldn't beat Kiprusoff on the breakaway, however, and the Flames carried their 1-0 lead into the second period.
A few minutes into the middle frame, Eberle injured his left ankle and retired to the dressing room. He would not return to the game.
Despite losing one of their top offensive producers, the Oilers persevered and hit the scoreboard near the game's midway point. From the left wing, Penner backhanded the puck to Tom Gilbert, who then backhanded it over to Jones on the right side. Jones burried a quick snapshot to get the Oil on the board and tie the game at one.
Four minutes later, however, the Flames renewed their lead. Proving to be a better screen than a window, Olli Jokinen parked himself in front of Khabibulin, obstructing the goalie's view of Mark Giordano on the point. The defenceman's slapshot sailed through traffic and into the net, setting the score 2-1 for Calgary.
In the frame's final two minutes, a scuffle behind Kiprusoff's net resulted in coincidental cross-checking minors to Andrew Cogliano and Cory Sarich. After 40 minutes, the Oilers found themselves down 2-1 and trailing 26-8 on the shot clock.
Edmonton came alive and out-shot Calgary 9-4 in the final frame, but Kiprusoff was solid and kept an equalizer off the board.
With 2:08 remaining in regulation and the Oilers trailing by one, Jokinen flipped the puck over the glass and was called for delay of game, offering the Oil their first power-play. Despite pulling Khabibulin for the extra skater, the Oilers struggled to control the puck and ran out of time, dropping a 2-1 decision to the Flames Saturday night.