With Dwayne Roloson and Sergei Samsonov making their home debuts in Edmonton Oilers' silks and the Calgary Flames opening a seven-game road swing, the Oilers had an opportunity last night to reel in the Flames in the standings in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta.
They did. This round went to the Oilers as Shawn Horcoff found net through Miikka Kiprusoff 3:04 into overtime for the 3-2 win.
Horcoff found himself in the right place after Flames defenceman Roman Hamrlik fell down and the shifty Samsonov slipped Horcoff the puck.
"I went to pull it to my back-hand and I was going to go five-hole, but it rolled on me," Horcoff said of his winner. "I just got enough of it that it snuck in."
Five points back of the Flames when the night began, the Oilers started off like gangbusters, disappeared for 20 minutes and then roared back for a win that pulls them to within four points of the Flames with 15 games remaining.
Substance over style, to be sure.
"We still feel there's enough games left to make a run at the division title," said Horcoff after the topsy-turvy tilt.
"That's important. It's been a long time since we had a chance to do that here."
The Oilers came in with just two wins in their last six home games and three in their last 11 overall. They had just one win to show for four games since the trade deadline passed and Roloson and Samsonov arrived to bolster their bid in the stretch.
Given all that, they'll take a lucky break and the two points from a game that swung both ways. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"It was a playoff type of game," said Samsonov, who picked up his fourth point in four games since arriving from the Boston Bruins with his helper on Horcoff's heroics. "Both teams were skating hard.
"Everybody understands how big these games are. It was a big two points for us ... these teams are big rivals. You expect intensity and you expect fans to be into the game."
When Jaroslav Spacek blew a one-timer past Kiprusoff for his 12th point in 16 games with the Oilers for a 1-0 lead, the Flames had nothing going. Had it not been for Kiprusoff, they could have fired up the bus and headed for their flight to Nashville at the first intermission.
But the Flames got even 13:36 into the game when Matthew Lombardi beat Roloson top shelf with a snapshot. When Mike Leclerc turned a Jarret Stoll giveaway into a 2-1 lead 9:59 into the second period, it was the Oilers on their heels and reeling - they were outshot 11-4 in the period.
"Sometimes, it doesn't take too much to get momentum switches like that," Stoll said. "It was a tale of a couple teams coming out in different periods. At times I thought we outplayed them, but in that second period they really jumped all over us and took advantage of our turnovers."
The momentum swung again in the third as Stoll made amends for his gaffe, fooling Kiprusoff with a spin move to tie it with less than 13 minutes to play.
"I had to get one back," Stoll said. "That was my mindset coming into the third period. It was a bad second period for myself, so I had to redeem myself."