SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers finally euthanized

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:54 AM ET

CALGARY -- Neither team wanted to be there.

One was missing the playoffs while the other was limping into them.

But if the games must be played, they might as well be won, which is what the Calgary Flames did last night, beating Edmonton 4-1 and bringing the Oilers' disappointing season to a merciful end.

"It was a predictable game," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.

"Both teams had lots of chances and it ran away from us a little bit in the third, which is a little puzzling given the size of their bench compared to ours."

The Oilers made three changes to the lineup that had beaten the Flames the night before, with Liam Reddox, J.F. Jacques and Marc-Antoine Pouliot replacing Robert Nilsson, Dustin Penner and Kyle Brodziak.

Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers made his second consecutive start in goal for the Oilers, while the the Flames started their backup as well.

And for a guy who had never won an NHL game, Curtis McElhinney played very well, making 34 saves.

"We had lots of chances," MacTavish said. "Ales Kotalik must have had four or five chances himself and normally he puts those in the back of the net.

"But you have to give McElhinney credit; he played well, especially at the end of the second period where he made a bunch of great saves in succession."

The Oilers went into the contest having been eliminated from playoff contention earlier in the week.

The Flames once again were unable to ice a full lineup, with only enough healthy bodies for three forward lines.

The Oilers, meanwhile, will gather for a final time tomorrow and then begin the long off-season, pondering what went wrong.

Despite being inconsistent for most of the season, they were in a playoff position heading down the stretch, but went on to lose seven of nine to slide out of the race.

By the time they faced the Flames for season-ending home-and-home encounters, they were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

"It's tough playing a game that doesn't mean a whole lot. It's disappointing," said defenceman Tom Gilbert, who notched Edmonton's lone goal.

"We went out and tried to play for J.D. He's been with us all year and we wanted a good effort for him."

Gilbert opened the scoring in the second period, gathering a rebound off the end boards and beating McElhinney to the other side of the net on the wraparound.

Later in the period, Michael Cammalleri tied the game, surprising Drouin-Deslauriers with a backhand that found it's way through his pads.

With under five minutes to go in the frame, Cammalleri gave the Flames the lead, snapping a shot over the shoulder of Drouin-Deslauriers.

"I kind of lost the backhand with all the players in front of me," Drouin-Deslauriers said.

"It was a good shot. He's a skilled player and made a good play. On the second one, I thought he was going to go to the same placee, but he brought the puck back and he changed his angle and caught me off guard."

The Flames increased their lead in the third period when Craig Conroy knocked in a rebound from in tight. Jamie Lundmark then added the fourth, blowing a shot through the Oilers goaltender.

"I think this will sink in a bit more once the summer starts, knowing that we had a spot in the playoffs," Gilbert said.

"We needed to play a little better down the stretch and that's what's really disappointing."

DEREK.VANDIEST@SUNMEDIA.CA


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