Road stinker hurts

Oilers' Sheldon Souray checks Flames' Eric Nystrom during the game Saturday in Edmonton. (Jason...

Oilers' Sheldon Souray checks Flames' Eric Nystrom during the game Saturday in Edmonton. (Jason Franson/SUN MEDIA)

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Craig Conroy wanted to hear nothing about playing three skaters short.

He didn't care about the fact the Calgary Flames were shorthanded from the drop of the puck because of their injuries and proximity to the salary cap to believe they were a factor in last night's 5-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

He was too mad.

"No excuses, we were bad," the veteran centre said.

"Kipper (Miikka Kiprusoff) was good, and we didn't play ... That was a terrible game.

"It doesn't matter if you have nine forwards or 15 forwards. We were not good. We've got to turn this thing around. We've got no excuses -- this is what we've got, so let's go.

"It's very frustrating."

Calgary's hopes of a Northwest Division title, and the No.-3 seed in the playoffs, are likely out the window. It's out of their hands anyway.

Quite likely the final chapter of their collapse came on a night they had to go without Dion Phaneuf and Curtis Glencross on top of the plethora of others.

They lined up with only three forward lines and six defencemen -- three of them rookies and two now with a total of six NHL games combined.

But those who did play should have had enough to at least put up a fight.

"I think we could have had a better effort than we had," head coach Mike Keenan said.

"I know there was a lot of discussion about ice-time distribution, but our top players had no more ice time than they normally do. In fact, the people who had ice time more than their average amount would be Eric Nystrom, Jamie Lundmark and David Moss. The rest of the players, with the exception of the two youngsters on defence, have played those kind of minutes before.

"I didn't feel (our hands) were tied. I expected more of our best players. They didn't play more than a minute or two more than their average."

Instead of coming out gangbusters to overcome their adversity, the Flames saw the Oilers fire the first seven shots on goal.

Nor were the Flames assertive -- 13 hits in total -- which allowed an Oilers team eliminated from the playoffs to play it nice and easy.

"We weren't aggressive enough," Conroy said. "That's a tough game for them, but once they got rolling, they were feeling good because it was pond hockey. They weren't hitting us and we weren't hitting them."

Kiprusoff kept his team in the hunt through half the game before the Rexall Place sellout crowd of 16,839, but goals late in the second period by Ales Kotalik and Steve MacIntyre was enough.

At the other end, Calgary didn't do enough to ruin Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers' first start since November.

Michael Cammalleri scored Calgary's lone goal.

Shawn Horcoff, Patrick O'Sullivan and Sheldon Souray also tallied for the Oilers.

Calgary still has a shot to finish atop the Northwest Division, but needs help.

Vancouver must lose in regulation this afternoon to Colorado Avalanche, and the Flames must beat the Oilers tonight in the regular-season finale.

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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