Up-the-highway robbery

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 11:00 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Hockey Day in Canada is a celebration of the game across the country.

The Flames joined the party just in time.

Matthew Lombardi's goal with 65 seconds remaining in regulation time forced the extra action and Todd Bertuzzi scored the only shootout goal to give the Flames their gritty and well-earned 3-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers last night.

"We're building confidence," said captain Jarome Iginla. "We are believing on our bench going into third periods that if it's right there, we're going to stick with it, stay positive and find ways to win it.

"Tonight, we did."

On a night the Flames were the better team in an exciting Battle of Alberta, it took a little more time than they would have preferred for the win, but nobody was complaining about going into a fourth period and beyond for the third straight outing.

"We had a feeling something had to give," defenceman Cory Sarich said. "We were doing a lot of good things, generating offence and played a solid game defensively, which has been a struggle lately at times. We played a really rounded game and it was nice we were rewarded for it."

Just as it appeared Calgary's lead atop the Northwest Division standings would be down to six points, Lombardi sharp-angled shot hit the top corner and stunned the Rexall Place sellout crowd of 16,836.

"I just tried to get it through," Lombardi said.

"I wasn't trying for anything specific. I just wanted to get it up and it got through. Anything can happen with that many guys in front of the net. It was nice to see that get in."

Bertuzzi used a tricky backhand move, dragging the puck around Edmonton goalie Dwayne Roloson. Iginla and Michael Cammalleri couldn't beat Roloson in the shootout, but Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff was equal to the task against all three Oilers: Sam Gagner, Robert Nilsson and Ales Hemsky.

Calgary (35-18-6) maintains an eight-point lead on the Vancouver Canucks in the Northwest Division chase. Edmonton (29-25-5) is holding the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference.

Despite such a strong performance, the Flames twice had to erase deficits. The prettiest tally of the night belonged to Iginla, but it was all Sarich's work.

The defenceman first chipped the puck off the boards to get around Tom Gilbert for an odd-man rush.

He then faked a shot while skating down the wing and sent a pass for Iginla to easily knock home for his 22nd goal of the season.

"It was pretty much his goal," Iginla said with a laugh.

"It looked like a broken play, didn't look like much, then all of a sudden, he beat one guy. I came off the bench and was yelling at him, but he looked up at me and then faked me out when he wound up. I couldn't believe it. He faked everybody out."

Sarich's reply when told Iginla was nearly caught off guard: "I'm glad he didn't go right to sleep on me out there."

Another key was Calgary's penalty killing, which snuffed six Oiler man-advantages, including a 53-second third-period five-on-three.

"You know going into it, that if you kill it, you'll find a way to tie it," Iginla said. "You don't, it's 3-1 for them with under 10 minutes left and they have a lot of momentum. It seems to work like that. If you don't get it (a powerplay goal), the other team finds a way."

Erik Cole and Hemsky replied for the Oilers.

A scare took place in the final minutes when teammates Dustin Boyd and David Moss collided. Moss was on the ice for a few minutes and needed help to the bench.

"He thinks he's fine, but that was a heck of a train wreck," head coach Mike Keenan said.

The Flames return home for a two-game stretch which begins Tuesday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


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