Refs earn F from faithful

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

Boos rained down to the Saddledome ice after the second period, then again when the buzzer sounded to end the game.

They weren't for the Calgary Flames, despite the fact they lost a 4-3 decision to the Edmonton Oilers.

Although the hated provincial rival was in town, in the eyes of the local fans, public enemies No. 1 and 2 last night were the referees.

With three special teams goals in the second period, the Oilers used six straight powerplays to pull away from the Flames and claim a 4-3 victory in the first Battle of Alberta of the regular-season.

The Flames were equally angry, but more at themselves for letting the game get away from them.

"We got into penalty trouble. We got ourselves in there," said Jarome Iginla, who was kept off the scoresheet on the night. "It puts you on your heels as a team, and it gives them puck possession for a long time. For the life of us, we couldn't (get a call). We finally drew one in the third, I guess two, and got ourselves back into it."

With his fourth goal in four games, Todd Bertuzzi capped off the scoring and got the Flames to within one on a man-advantage 7:23 into the third, but the winger was also a victim of one of the frustrating calls.

Trying to get around Sheldon Souray after dishing the puck off, Bertuzzi bulldogged the defenceman in the collision and went off for holding.

Lubomir Visnovsky scored on the ensuing powerplay to give the Oilers their first lead of the game.

Visibly upset on the ice, Bertuzzi was restrained in the locker-room.

"You know what, I really don't want to make a comment on any of it. It won't do me any good," he said.

"It's tough when we've got to kill five, six, seven penalties in a row. You ask any team, it's a tough hill to climb. We've just got to keep our sticks down."

Head coach Mike Keenan's stick was up high in the post-game presser, though. He was calm, but obviously upset about the lopsided calls.

"The question is, 'Are they warranted,' and then the next question is, 'Are they penalty free for 40 minutes, the opposition, because that's how the assessment was made," said Keenan.

"I look down here," he added, looking down at the game sheet, "and we've got four hooking penalties and they have none. I would say you would be hard-pressed to say they never took a hooking penalty tonight."

Other than a coincidental roughing penalty to Souray in the first period, the Flames drew no calls until three in the third period. The Flames finished with eight calls against.

Erik Cole and Robert Nilsson also scored on the man-advantage opportunities to take a 4-2 lead into the final period. Andrew Cogliano scored his first on a tip that pushed the puck between Miikka Kiprusoff's legs to end the first period in a tie, helping to spoil Kiprusoff's best overall effort of the season.

Adrian Aucoin started the scoring in the first period with a long shot that appeared to change direction and beat rookie Oilers goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, who was making his first NHL start.

He looked shaky on David Moss' first of the season, which beat him under the blocker on the short side from a terrible angle. But Deslauriers was at his best in the third period to preserve the lead and take his first victory, keeping the Oilers unbeaten on the season.

The Flames get another crack tonight in Edmonton, but so will the same crew of officials -- Dennis LaRue, Dan Marouelli and linesmen Michel Cormier and Jay Sharrers.

"I guess we'd better prepare for that part of the game better than we did tonight," said Keenan.


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