CALGARY -- It started with a cheapshot and escalated from there.
Last night was expected to be the final audition for a number of Edmonton Oilers looking to earn a spot on the roster.
It may still have been, but when Calgary Flames defenceman Jim Vandermeer smacked Marc Pouliot after the Oilers forward scored a goal, then cut him badly in the ensuing fight, the objective of the contest shifted, and the battle was on.
Pouliot's goal, lifting a rebound over Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff early in the second period, gave the Oilers a 3-1 lead, one they would eventually relinquish in a 4-3 overtime loss.
As the Oilers forward was celebrating, Vandermeer took a poke at him. Pouliot responded by smacking the Flames defenceman back.
The two eventually dropped the gloves and Pouliot was cut on the head, bled profusely and had to leave the game. He would later return to the contest.
Somehow despite the obvious cheap-shot, the pool of blood in the corner -- which inexcusably was left unattended while play restarted -- and the loss of a forward, the Oilers ended receiving a misconduct.
That did not sit well with Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.
Shortly thereafter, he blew a gasket and was ejected when Steve MacIntyre was given a garbage roughing penalty coming to the aid of Rob Schremp, who fired the puck towards the Flames net after the whistle.
The Oilers new enforcer stepped in between to Flames who made their way towards Schremp after the play, then pinned both of them against the boards.
With defenceman Jason Strudwick already heading to the box on a slashing call, MacIntyre's penalty put the Oilers two men short.
They would remain short-handed in one form or another until Jamie Lundmark scored on a two-man advantage to cut the deficit to 3-2 midway through the period. Andrew Cogliano and Kyle Brodziak had scored for the Oilers, while Jarome Iginla countered for the Flames.
Then it turned nasty.
MacIntyre got his revenge on Vandermeer and probably earned a job in the process, pounding on him in a fight later in the period.
Prior to that Zack Stortini took a run at Flames defenceman Robyn Regehr in the corner precipitating a mutual dropping of the gloves.
Before the end of the period, Oiler forwards Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau exchanged pleasantries with Andre Roy and Brandon Prust respectively.
In the third Iginla netted his second of the night banging a rebound from in close past Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers. Curtis Glencross scored the overtime winner.
The Oilers goaltender was one of the biggest reason's why the Flames hadn't tied the game in the previous frame on their numerous power-play opportunities.
His performance muddled an already cloudy goaltending picture with Mathieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson still in the mix. Drouin-Deslauriers finished with 43 saves.
Pouliot's play undoubtedly earned him a spot on the starting roster, most likely alongside Kyle Brodziak and Stortini on the fourth line.
With MacIntyre proving how valuable he can be to a to an ill-spirited battle it's likely a roster spot will be saved for him.
That leaves Rob Schremp and Gilbert Brule twisting in the wind.
While both played arguably their best games of the pre-season, they became non-factors when things turned sour.
And with one game left in the pre-season set for tomorrow in Dallas, it's likely MacTavish will want to play a majority of his opening-day roster against the Stars.