SUN Hockey Pool

New Year's fireworks

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:24 AM ET

The champagne's uncorking was scheduled for the stroke of midnight.

The Calgary Flames started the revelry early.

Thanks to a pair of goals each from Shean Donovan and Daymond Langkow and a fluky late winner from Kristian Huselius, the Flames dropped the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 in a wild 'n' wooly affair to end 2005.

"We pride ourselves on our defence but there's going to be times you have games like that," said Langkow. "It's sure nice to come out on top."

As a result, Calgary rings in the new year sitting atop the Northwest Division standings, two points up on their Alberta rivals and three ahead of Vancouver.

Just when it appeared the clash was headed for overtime, Jarome Iginla cleanly won the faceoff in the Oilers zone, drawing it back to Huselius, who snapped a shot from the dot that ricocheted off Marc-Andre Bergeron's skate and Chris Pronger's leg before eluding Edmonton goalie Jussi Markkanen.

"I'm a good pool player," Huselius said with a grin. "I just got lucky but if you shoot the puck, that's what can happen sometimes."

Calgary heads to 2006 with a 23-12-4 mark, while the Oilers sit at 22-14-4.

It was a wacky finish but the signs were there right away New Year's Eve would be a treat.

Continuing an alarming trend of late, the Flames staked a two-goal bulge only to see it disappear. They took the lead before the clash was five minutes old thanks a two-man advantage powerplay. Markkanen stopped Andrew Ference's point shot but couldn't smother the rebound before Langkow whacked it under the Oilers netminder and into the cage.

Then Donovan parently not in the mood to have another 34-game drought -- doubled the lead en route to what became a three-point night.

Steve Staios clearing attempt banked off Brad Winchester and back into the Oilers zone, where Donovan and Chris Simon played give-and-go until the speedster roofed a wrister for his second goal in as many outings.

Only 28 seconds later, though, Raffi Torres put the Oilers on the board when he grabbed a loose puck in the slot and lifted an offering over Miikka Kiprusoff's outstretched trapper.

Before the opening period ended, the Oilers drew even with a powerplay goal of their own when Marcus Nilson deflected Bergeron's point shot into his own goal.

The third straight goal came off an Oilers stick with the visitors enjoying a two-man advantage of their own.

With Andrew Ference and Bryan Marchment in the sin bin, Jarret Stoll wired a one-timer from the point to give the visitors the lead.

It's the first time this season -- on the 19th opportunity -- the Flames were victimized while trying to kill a five-on-three opportunity.

Matthew Lombardi erased the damage on that same shorthanded stint, tallying on a two-on-one with Donovan for his first of the season.

The see-saw continued into the third, rising again for Calgary 18 seconds into the final frame when Donovan collected his second of the game.

"I wasn't playing too good early on and started playing better, so it's nice things are going now," said Donovan, who ended a 34-game goal-scoring drought with a tally Thursday against Minnesota. "I'm starting to feel a lot better. I'm happy a little confidence is coming."

Ryan Smyth scored to tie the game again before Langkow again put the hosts ahead with another powerplay goal. But Ales Hemsky again drew the game even with Edmonton's fourth powerplay goal.

Kiprusoff stopped 25 shots for the win, while Markkanen made 19 saves.

- - -

CALGARY FLAMES: 6

EDMONTON OILERS: 5


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