Lombardi outshines wingers

Calgary Flames' Matthew Lombardi crashes into the net while Edmonton Oilers goalie Jussi Markkanen...

Calgary Flames' Matthew Lombardi crashes into the net while Edmonton Oilers goalie Jussi Markkanen holds his ground during a preseason NHL game at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary on Thursday. (Calgary Sun/Stuart Dryden)

RANDY SPORTAK -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 10:38 AM ET

Turns out the third wheel provided the zoom.

On a night the Calgary Flames and their fans finally gained a glimpse of how Jarome Iginla and Alex Tanguay would click, it was the man in the middle hogging the spotlight.

Centre Matthew Lombardi, skating alongside Calgary's most potent wingers, scored twice -- once shorthanded during a five-on-three -- in the Flames' 4-3 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers in NHL pre-season action last night at the Saddledome.

Think he wants the job playing pivot between Iginla and Tanguay, who are expected to combine for more than the 64 goals they tallied last season?

Lombardi, whose 16-goal rookie season of 2003-04 was followed up by a disappointing six-goal, injury-derailed 2005-06 campaign, entered training camp in a dogfight for ice time.

Though the Flames aren't known for an overpowering collection of NHL centres, they are strong with veterans Daymond Langkow and Stephane Yelle solidified on the roster and Jamie Lundmark in the hunt for the same duty Lombardi is looking to claim.

But it was Lombardi given the first audition with the exciting pair and showed early last night he wanted to make the most of his chance.

A little more than two minutes into the clash, it was Lombardi -- given plenty of space due to a powerplay -- who went from the end boards to the front of the cage, eluded the pokecheck from Oilers netminder Jussi Markkanen and slipped the puck into the net.

By the midway point of the opening frame, he was at it again.

This time, while Calgary was defending a five-on-three powerplay, Lombardi outraced Jarret Stoll, the defacto defenceman on the powerplay, and cut to the net before tucking the puck through Markkanen's legs on the deke.

Though Iginla, playing his first pre-season game of the year, wasn't the star of the show, he did get his name onto the scoresheet with a tally of his own.

Enjoying a late first-period powerplay, the Calgary captain was parked in the slot when a bounding puck came to him and whacked it out of the air into the cage.

But the Oilers, who iced a more inexperienced NHL lineup, weren't willing to concede defeat.

Marc-Antoine Pouliot scored on the powerplay, Patrick Thoresen tallied shorthanded and Stoll converted at even strength for the visitors, who came to Calgary perfect in their three previous exhibition-season clashes.

The Oilers' comeback was partially aided by a less-than-stellar night from Flames No.-1 netminder Miikka Kiprusoff.

In his first action of this fall, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner surrendered three goals on 15 shots in half a game's action before turning the duties over to Brent Krahn.

Krahn was nearly flawless, stopping the first nine shots he faced but surrendering the winner to Shawn Horcoff, who converted a shorthanded breakaway in overtime to end the clash.

Markkanen, who'll back up Dwayne Roloson for the Oilers to start the season, went the distance and made 26 saves.

Not a vicious instalment in the Battle of Alberta, the game did feature a couple of scraps.

Calgary's Eric Godard laid a beating on Zack Stortini and Flames hopeful Brandon Prust dropped the mitts with Mathieu Roy. The teams will meet again in pre-season action tomorrow night in Edmonton.

ICE CHIP: Flames defenceman Rhett Warrener's injured knee kept him off the ice again yesterday. He went for a MRI and it's quite possible he'll miss the season opener.


Videos

Photos