The Calgary Flames scored three goals in the third period, including an empty-netter by Olli Jokinen to burn the Oilers 5-3 Saturday night at Rexall Place.
Lennart Petrell, Sam Gagner and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for the Oilers, while Nikolai Khabibuiln stopped 27 shots in the loss.
Nationwide on Hockey Night in Canada, the Oilers started the game with a strong push to gain a decided territorial advantage early on. At 2:19, the orange and blue's fourth line dominated, cashing with a goal at 2:19 to go up 1-0. Darcy Hordichuk wound up and unleashed a bullet from the goal line; the puck pinballed in, as Lennart Petrell's midsection was used as a redirection point to beat the Flames netminder.
The Oilers' lead increased to a pair 41 seconds later when Sam Gagner collected a loose puck in the slot, snapping a long-range shot to beat a surprised Miikka Kiprusoff up high. With the marker, No. 89 snapped a 19-game goalless drought.
With Andy Sutton in the box serving a roughing minor, Calgary sliced the home side's lead. On the Flames' fourth shot, Olli Jokinen pounced on a loose puck near Nikolai Khabibulin, sliding his sixth goal of the season past the veteran 'tender to make it a 2-1 game at 3:49, 49 seconds later.
Just as quickly as the Oilers had established a 2-0 lead, the Flames squared the score. Rene Bourque collected a rebound in the low slot, diving and sliding the puck across the line behind Khabibulin at 6:45.
As the period's 10-minute mark passed, the Flames were in possession of a 10-4 lead on the shot clock; but within moments, the home side gained another excellent chance to score. Ryan Jones sprung Ryan Smyth on a breakaway, but No. 94's along-the-ice backhand attempt was routinely turned aside by the goalie.
Calgary's Lee Stempniak was charged with hooking at 14:50, putting the Oilers' 21.6-percent power-play to work. The home side was unable to generate a shot, much less a goal; but they got another chance moments later when Olli Jokinen was assessed a late-period hooking penalty.
That chance, too, passed without a shot as the 2-2 tie continued into the intermission. With 20 minutes in the books, the Flames held a 14-8 lead on the shot clock.
In continuing a trend that began in the opening period, Khabibulin had to come up big in the period's early moments. No save was bigger than his cross-crease denial of Jarome Iginla, who stepped into a wide-side one-timer that the 38-year-old blocked on the goal line with his right pad.
Waiver-wire pickup Blake Comeau was caught for closing his hand on the puck at 5:23, and a separate PP chance arose when Scott Hannan was charged with delay of game at 7:42, but neither opportunity could gain any traction as the 2-2 score carried into the period's back half.
Squandered power-plays continued to dominate the proceedings for the home side, as the league's best (home) man-advantage wasted another opportunity when Rene Bourque was assessed a hooking minor at 12:38. The Oilers were, however, able to climb closer on the shot clock as the Flames' lead was cut to a 20-16 edge.
As such, the power-play tables turned near the period's end when Sutton returned to the box to serve a high-sticking minor. Goaltending reigned supreme, as Khabibulin came up with a huge pad save to preserve the 2-2 score when he denied a one-timer.
With 40 minutes expired, the teams were still locked in a 2-2 tie; Calgary, meanwhile, had extended to a 27-18 lead on the shot clock.
At 5:27, the Oilers took the lead once more. On the rush, Jordan Eberle put a shot on goal where Ryan Nugent-Hopkins could pounce and collect the rebound. No. 93 made no mistake, depositing the puck past Kiprusoff and bringing the sold-out Rexall Place crowd into a craze.
Moments later, however, the Flames responded. Derek Smith walked into the Oilers' zone and sniped home his second of the season to pull the visitors even, 3-3.
With 11:23 on the clock, Ryan Smyth picked up a questionable roughing minor when he tapped the Flames netminder, causing him to crumble to the ice. Improving to 2-for-4 with the man-advantage, Iginla passed to Mikael Backlund in the slot; the sophomore redirected the puck through Khabibulin's wickets to put Calgary up 4-3 at 10:25.
With 3:46 to play, hard work by the home side helped draw a last-gasp power-play chance when Olli Jokinen was charged with slashing Sam Gagner. That opportunity passed without incident, but the Oilers went up a man once more with over a minute to play when Khabibulin was pulled for an extra-attacker.
Following an ill-advised neutral zone turnover by Ales Hemsky, Olli Jokinen cashed into the gaping cage to a seal a 5-3 win for the Flames.
Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick