Tender moments!

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:26 AM ET

A year ago the Edmonton Oilers may have had an inferiority complex when it came to matching up goaltenders with the Calgary Flames.

But that's not the case this season, with Dwayne Roloson in net.

"We have a lot of confidence in Roli's ability against whomever," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Whether it's against (Miikka) Kiprusoff, (Roberto) Luongo or any of the best goalies in the game. He's proven himself since he's been here that he's in that ilk of goaltender, in that quality."

Without Roloson, the Oilers don't beat the Detroit Red Wings in a shootout on Saturday night.

Without Kiprusoff, the Flames don't beat anybody!

Tonight's meeting between the two teams (7 p.m.) at Rexall Place is expected to be a showdown between two of the league's premier netminders.

"Roli is a big reason why we are where we are right now," said Oilers winger Raffi Torres.

"He's giving us a chance to win every game. Especially the last game he came up with some big saves. And those are games we have to find a way to win. When you have your goalie going like that, it's almost like you have a seventh man out there on the ice."

In the win over the Wings, Roloson made 38 saves, then turned aside five of Detroit's seven shooters in the shootout.

He also took what looked to be a sure goal away from Wings winger Dan Cleary, diving across the net to make a glove save.

"That was a momentum swing in that game," said Oilers captain Jason Smith. "Whether it's a big goal or a big save, it can change the momentum of the game and he was a big part of us getting a result in that game."

Heading into tonight's encounter Roloson sports a 2.38 goals against average with a .923 save percentage. He's played in all but two games for the Oilers this year and has a 10-6-1-1 record.

Conversely, Kiprusoff has played 17 of the Flames' 18 games this season. He has a 2.10 goals against average with a 9.28 save percentage and a 9-7-1-3 record.

"I think with Roli back there ... it gives us that one piece that was maybe not as consistent in the past," said Oilers centre Marty Reasoner.

"He's been so solid for us and it reassures us that maybe we can take a few more chances. It also makes our system play so much easier when you know if you just do your job and keep everybody on the outside, he's going to do his."

Roloson has great respect for his Flames counterpart. But Kiprusoff is not who he's most concerned with heading into tonight's game.

"I have too many other guys on that team to worry about, like (Kristian) Huselius, (Alex) Tanguay and (Jarome) Iginla," Roloson said.

"I can't be focusing on what (Kiprusoff) is doing at the other end. It sort of takes my focus away on what the forwards and defence are doing. If that happens the puck will end up in our net."

On Saturday, the Oilers only managed to get 21 shots on Wings rookie goaltender Joey MacDonald, who was making his first career NHL start. That's an amount which would hardly put a dent in Kiprusoff's armour.

"It's no secret that Roli held us in (the game), during periods of times in that game," Reasoner said. "We're not going to get ahead of ourselves and think we played better than we did because we came away with the win.

"I think there is a lot of room for improvement. But I think you need some of those games where the goalie steps up and steals it for you over the course of the year in order to be successful."


Videos

Photos