As stingy as Dwayne Roloson and Miikka Kiprusoff have been lately, it's no surprise a lot of the intrigue going into the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta surrounded the duel between the pipes.
Both lived up to their advance billing in a relatively tame and tepid chapter in the rivalry last night, but it was Roloson who prevailed with 23 saves as the Oilers ran their winning streak to a season-high four games with a 2-1 decision.
Noted Flame-snuffer Petr Sykora scored both Edmonton goals to snap Calgary's six-game win streak and help the Oilers improve their home record to 9-2-0, but this victory had Roloson's fingerprints all over it.
"You've got to rely on some outstanding goaltending, which we, obviously, have been getting from Roli," coach Craig MacTavish said. "We can survive those stretches. He gave us the chance to win."
Roloson overcame a gaffe with defenceman Daniel Tjarnqvist that put the Flames on the board in the first 10 minutes, then ushered his teammates through a shaky second period to improve his season mark to 11-6-1.
"It's the mental part of the game," shrugged Roloson, who didn't give the Flames a sniff after what could have been a game-turning mistake. "You just have to try to forget about it.
"If you're worried about it, usually the next shot is in the net. You've just got to mentally try to put that aside and try to give your guys a chance to win after that."
Roloson blinked first in the showdown thanks to Tjarnqvist, who played a puck at the side of the net his goalie wanted to cover up, only to fumble it onto the stick of Chuck Kobasew, who fed Kristian Huselius for a gimme tap-in and a 1-0 lead 9:46 in.
"It was a bad miscommunication," said Tjarnqvist. "We were both going for the puck.
"He saw the guy behind me. I should've left the puck for him. He's winning games for us when we're not sharp."
Kiprusoff, boasting a chintzy 2.19 GAA coming in, had no chance on the Oilers first goal as Ryan Smyth was in his face like cheap aftershave, setting a screen on Sykora's slapper from the top of the circles on a power play to tie it with just 31 seconds left in the period.
Roloson dragged the Oilers through 40 minutes even, stiffing Jarome Iginla silly with a glove save on a power play with less than three minutes left in a second period the Flames dominated from buzzer to buzzer.
It wasn't quite the larcenous job Roloson pulled on Daniel Cleary in a 4-1 win over Detroit his last time out, but it was good enough to give the Oilers a shot when they hadn't played nearly well enough to deserve one.
"When you have a goaltender who is as hot and as good as Roli is right now, he gives you a chance to win even though you may not be playing your best hockey," MacTavish said. "We're getting away with some mistakes now that we never did before."
AROUND THE RINK: Calgary is 0-for-21 on the power play against the Oilers through three games after going 0-for-6 ... Zack Stortini, recalled from Hamilton of the AHL on Monday, was scratched along with Jan Hejda.