SUN Hockey Pool

Bad blood fuels Battle

Flames forward Theo Fleury celebrates a Calgary goal during first period pre-season action at...

Flames forward Theo Fleury celebrates a Calgary goal during first period pre-season action at Rexall Place on Wednesday. (Sun Media/Amber Bracken)

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

EDMONTON -- One of Theoren Fleury's favourite NHL memories took place in this building nearly two decades ago.

Who can forget the infamous slide celebrating his overtime winner in Game 6 of the Calgary Flames' 1991 playoff series against the Edmonton Oilers?

Fast-forwarding about 18 years to last night's pre-season Battle of Alberta, Fleury turned back the clock a little in arguably his most well-rounded game to date in his bid to return to the NHL as the Flames beat the Oilers 5-3 at Rexall Place.

"I felt great. Our line played great," said Fleury, whose line-mate Curtis Glencross netted a pair, while he earned an assist for his fourth point in as many games with a helper on the opening goal.

Fleury may not be around when the Flames and Oilers meet here again Oct. 3 -- but there will be plenty of bad blood between regulars for their first regular-season meeting after last night's penalty-plagued tilt.

Glencross will definitely be one of them. In the second period, he roofed a wrister after stealing the puck for a shorthanded breakaway that gave the Flames a 3-2 advantage and sapped some of the energy out of the sold-out building.

"Just kind of a battle at the blueline," Glencross said.

"I was shocked I was all alone."

Glencross also opened the scoring to take advantage of Fleury's chip deep into the offensive zone on their first shift together.

Nikolai Khabibulin couldn't contain the dump behind his net and Glencross came out with the puck and put it in for a 1-0 lead 1:34 into the game.

It was an early reward for the team that is working hard to perfect head coach Brent Sutter's system.

"Great road game by our team. We wanted to get off to a good start. I think we did that," Fleury said. "They've been preaching the system, structure. I think we've all been trying to work on it as a group."

Neither netminder was very strong.

Making grinder Jean-Francois Jacques look good in his third straight audition on the top line beside Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky, Miikka Kiprusoff added another troublesome goal to his pre-season resume, allowing the Oilers to grab a 2-1 lead when Jacques' bad-angle effort banked in off the netminder's blocker arm.

The Flames netminder has been a little sick, but wouldn't use it as an excuse.

Jarome Iginla, Fredrik Sjostrom and Jason Jaffray also scored for the Flames, while Dustin Penner and Mike Comrie answered for the Oilers.

Fleury nearly had his second of the pre-season but was denied by Khabibulin in tight on a setup from Glencross.

Sutter admitted Fleury was better last night than in his previous game in Vancouver.

"I thought he played a smart game, played within the confines of our team play," Sutter said. "He was moving his feet a little better tonight."

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA


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