Oilers burn out

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:36 AM ET

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames were ripe for the picking.

Slumping badly, struggling to score, terrible special teams, key injuries and home town fans going from restless to angry.

Then again, so were the Oilers. So it was a pretty even fight.

With Edmonton and Calgary both taking on water fast, the Battle of Alberta was reduced to the Clash of the Titanics last night. The Oilers sank.

"We got off to a good start, all signs pointed to us winning the game, but (Miikka) Kiprusoff played well against us again tonight," said Edmonton head coach Craig MacTavish, after Calgary won the purse fight 3-1, extending the Oilers' losing streak to five games.

"We played good enough again to win, but didn't get the win."

Calgary did. Why?

BETTER GOALTENDING

Because their goaltending was better and because their 30th ranked penalty kill held Edmonton's power play to 0-for-6 and its 30th ranked power play scored to trigger the comeback (and scored again four seconds after an Oiler penalty had expired).

"I thought we played really well," said Oiler centre Shawn Horcoff, back in the lineup after missing two games with a sprained shoulder. "It's just a matter of not being able to solve Kipper again. It seems to be the same old story when we come down here.

"But if we keep the same effort and the same intensity against Colorado (tonight) we'll be fine."

They looked fine at the start yesterday, like they were going to blow Calgary out of the rink -- the shots were 14-4 when Ethan Moreau opened the scoring late in the first period -- but Flames goaltender Kiprusoff wouldn't let the visitors run away with it.

"We came out slow and they set the tone," admitted Chuck Kobasew, who scored twice for the the Flames. "But we rallied. The last 10 minutes of the second period were our best 10 minutes of the season and gave us the momentum going into the third."

The tide did indeed turn late in the second period when the Oilers, up 1-0 and applying all kinds of pressure, had a four-minute power play against that 30th-ranked penalty kill and came up empty.

"I don't think we were terrible on it, we just have to put the puck in the net somehow," said Jarret Stoll. "We have to find a way to beat Kiprusoff, whether it's five on five or on the power play. It definitely would have helped us if we popped one there."

BUOYED BY THE KILL

Buoyed by the kill, the Flames rallied back with two goals of their own in the space of 71 seconds. Steve Reinprecht on a power play at 17:12 and Chuck Kobasew on a rebound at 18:23.

With the game still up for grabs, the Flames made it 3-1 when Kobasew's second of the night crossed the line by an inch -- far enough to put Edmonton in a terrible spot with 10 of their next 12 on the road.

"We're back playing the type of hockey that we played through the first couple of games," said MacTavish. "That's the encouraging part for us. If we continue to play that well we're going to turn it around."

LATE HITS: The Oilers scratched Brad Winchester and Cory Cross and were without the injured Ryan Smyth.


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