Are we there yet?

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:18 PM ET

DALLAS -- Before things got stupid, they were looking pretty good.

Having been thoroughly dominated by the Calgary Flames in an earlier preseason encounter, the Edmonton Oilers put a better foot forward on Friday.

They were able to build a 3-1 lead in Calgary before the gloves came off in the contest - literally.

"We felt we played a lot better (Friday) night," said Oilers forward Sam Gagner. "We need to get sharper before the regular season starts and I think we're starting to get there. We were moving the puck well, moving our feet and when we're doing that, that's when we're playing our best.

"We need to find that consistency. We want to keep playing well heading into the season, and hopefully we'll have some success."

Andrew Cogliano, in particular, had a strong outing.

The Oilers forward was giving the Flames all sorts of problems with his speed early in the contest.

"In the first couple of games, I was just trying to get my legs back," Cogliano said. "I think I may have been just trying a little too hard. I know I wasn't playing too well defensively and I tried to focus more on that (Friday). It made big difference because a lot of things opened up offensively.

"I just have to keep doing that and the offence will come."

Cogliano had the Oilers first quality scoring chance when he was hauled down on a breakaway midway through the first period and awarded a penalty shot.

Cogliano had his shot stopped by Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, but was able to beat him later in the frame.

"I got out there and I just kind of changed my mind," Cogliano said. "A guy like myself just has to come down and either shoot or make a quick move. I got a little sidetracked, I wanted to do something else.

"It's too bad, but I think I'll be able to get in a lot more of those situations."

While Cogliano may have been the best Oiler early on, he wasn't the only one creating offence.

Kyle Brodziak gave the Oilers the lead with his second of the preseason, while Marc Pouliot added a third before getting jumped by Flames defencemen Jim Vandermeer, which precipitated the fireworks.

"We had a great first period," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "I was troubled by the third period, while the second period was one of those things where we were able to get out of it OK.

"We were able to get out of the second period with the lead, but then we didn't execute well in the third period again. That's that troubling part for me."

Due to an inordinate amount of power plays, the Flames were able to cut into the deficit in the second period. Jarome Iginla tied the game in the third, which led to Curtis Glencross' overtime goal in the 4-3 loss.

Tonight in Dallas, the Oilers were expected to ice a lineup similar to the one they'll have on opening night.

So far through the exhibition season, the team has played just two of their top four lines, giving younger players an opportunity to make an impression.

However, having the Calgary game dragged through the trenches made it difficult to evaluate some of the players still on the bubble.

"I haven't decided yet (on a lineup)," said MacTavish. "I haven't totally made my mind up. I'm probably leaning towards dressing a lineup that's going to be very similar to what we're going to have on opening night. But I'm not completely convinced of that yet."

The game against the Stars tonight is the Oilers final exhibition contest. They'll start the regular season by hosting the Colorado Avalanche at home next Sunday.

"I think we're on the right track," Cogliano said. "We have one game left to get it together, but I think we'll be in good form for the start of the season."


Videos

Photos