Flames find cure on road

Steve Staios trades punches with Robyn Regehr during third period action in Edmonton on Monday....

Steve Staios trades punches with Robyn Regehr during third period action in Edmonton on Monday. (QMI Agency/Jason Franson)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

EDMONTON -- Style points don't count in the NHL standings.

The Calgary Flames will be thankful for that.

Besides, snapping their three-game losing skid with last night's 4-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers is all that matters considering how badly they’ve slumped throughout December.

They'll take a win, no matter how it happens.

Despite once again being outplayed through the opening period and filling the game with turnovers galore, they can finally breathe a bit easier.

Just a bit.

Thanks to Rene Bourque’s hat-trick and great goaltending from Miikka Kiprusoff one night after a dreadful outing, Calgary finally moved up the Western Conference ladder instead of continuing their steady slide downward.

Needing to do something to pull out of the doldrums, the Flames received the perfect tonic. A game against the Oilers, who sit last in the Western Conference.

For the fourth time in as many tries this season, and third before a sellout crowd of 16,836 at Rexall Place, the Flames (21-12-5) beat their provincial rivals, although it took a while for them to get going.

One night after being throttled 5-1 by the Vancouver Canucks at home, the Flames were victimized by another poor effort out of the gates.

Just over two minutes into the game, Edmonton opened the scoring with the fourth-line doing the honours.

After Kiprusoff made a couple of nice saves, Ryan Potulny deflected Jason Strudwick’s point shot to give the hosts first blood.

However, the Flames not only survived a period in which they were outshot 16-5, but managed to pull even thanks to Bourque’s first goal of the game, coming with 62 seconds remaining in the frame.

Nigel Dawes made a reverse pass as he picked up the puck from behind the net and Bourque lifted the puck over the glove of Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers.

As well, Olli Jokinen’s assist was the 300th helper of his career.

Bourque scored his second on the night with a powerplay goal just before the midway point to give Calgary the lead.

Jokinen’s shot hit the crossbar and bounced right down in the crease behind Deslauriers. Bourque was on the spot for the rebound.

Bourque completed his first career three-goal game with a shorthanded goal early in the third period.

Daymond Langkow intercepted a pass and created a two-on-one, on which he shot from a wide angle. Deslauriers made the save, but Bourque put the rebound in for his 13th goal of the season.

If that’s not enough, he has five goals and 10 points in four games this season against the Oilers.

Mark Giordano made it a three-goal lead within a couple of minutes on a goal Craig Conroy assisted for his 300th point as a Flame.

From there, the Flames cruised to the finish line, although the affair had some Battle of Alberta nastiness.

In the final five minutes, Calgary captain Jarome Iginla fought Ladislav Smid, and then Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr dropped the mitts with Steve Staios.

Aaron Johnson and Ryan Stone wrestled each other, too.

Kiprusoff finished the night with 34 saves in a very strong outing on the heels of his dreadful performance the night before against the Canucks, in which he allowed four goals on 13 shots in the first period before receiving the hook.

Deslauriers stopped 20 shots for the Oilers (15-20-4), who have lost seven straight games, all in regulation.

Calgary returns home to face the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow night and then will host the Oilers on New Year’s Eve.

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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