SUN Hockey Pool

Ugly opener for Flames

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:09 AM ET

EDMONTON - New-look Oilers, same old Flames.

Considering the roster didnít change all that much, it may come as no surprise to see many of the same problems plague the Calgary Flames this season.

A bad start.

Too many shots allowed to reach Miikka Kiprusoff.

Confusion in their own zone.

An invisible captain.

A lack of offence.

It was downright ugly at Rexall Place as the Oilers took the season opener 4-0, embarrassing the Flames and thrilling a city that has been suffering for years.

Snapping a seven-game losing streak to their provincial rival, the Oilers created a buzz in the building that hasnít been felt since their Stanley Cup run in 2006.

The bad times since have spawned a new era in Oilers hockey, with rookies Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi joining an already talented young core.

Eberle stole the show in the third period, but the Flames were already stunned by the time he scored his first NHL goal and added his first assist on a shot that skipped in off Shawn Horcoffís shinpads.

Intent on coming out with a strong start to the season, the veteran Flames failed to control their enthusiasm and got caught up in some run-and-gun hockey with the speedy Oilers.

Well, the running and gunning was courtesy mostly of the hosts, who scooted around visitor bodies like they were pylons and shelled Kiprusoff during a lopsided first period that made it seem like Rexall Place was tilted toward Kipperís crease.

The Flames netminder was easily the brightest star for the Flames despite a relatively soft goal allowed in the first period when Gilbert Brule ripped a wrister from inside the faceoff button under his arm on the glove side to make it 1-0 Oilers.

It should have been a two-goal deficit but Dustin Pennerís tally just minutes into the game was disallowed for goaltender interference.

Summing up the sort of night the Flames defenders would have, the big bully shoved his way past a helpless Ian White and took a pass from Ales Hemsky before sticking the puck into Kiprusoffís pad and then pushing it in as the two fell toward the post.

Close call, but replays suggested it should have counted.

The Flames got the better of the Oilers in the second period, at least on the shot clock, but came away with no goals to show for it after outshooting them 18-7.

Kiprusoff, meanwhile, continued to take shots. If not from pucks, from bodies.

After Penner bulldozed him in the first period, Brule followed suit in the second and looked like he stung the goalie.

He might have wished he was pulled for safety reasons, because things didnít get better in the third.

Eberle scored the opening-day candidate for goal of the year with a dangle around Ian White that he capped with a backhand deke on Kiprusoff before roofing the puck to make it 2-0. While shorthanded.

Little more than a minute later, Ales Hemsky scored from an awkward angle to make it 3-0.

Another Eberle shot looked like it skipped in off Shawn Horcoffís shins to put the nail in the coffin on the powerplay and start the party in Edmonton.

The autopsy in Calgary begins Friday.

twitter.com/MacfarlaneSteve


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