Third Period Magic Escapes Flames 

Oilers Come From Behind to Best Home Side

March 11th, 2003
Rick Charlton

Lowry Conroy Iginla
Sloan Yelle Clark
Gelinas Drury Saprykin
Berube Nichol Montador
Gauthier Boughner
Leopold Regehr
Lydman Ference

One team played inspired.

The other looked as though it had its heart ripped out.

After a frantic day of trading that left the Oilers staring dejectedly at the ceiling, two of their best players on their way elsewhere, the Oilers came up with a strong third period, scoring three times to pound the Calgary Flames 5-2 last night in front of 17,700 at the Saddledome.

It was not the result the Flames had expected, their GM universally lauded for his slight but nifty moves earlier in the day while his counterpart in Edmonton was equally roasted after trading his leading scorer and a top defenceman.

The Trade Line
Flames Make Noise
Flames Reacquire McAmmond
Flames Deal Niedemayer

But the home side fell flat on its face in front of a determined Oiler comeback in the final 20 minutes of play.

"We made some mistakes mentally and it cost us," concluded Captain Craig Conroy. "Tonight was definitely not the game we wanted to play."

The loss snapped a Flames four game win streak and left the home side at 23-32-10-4 on the season, good for 60 points and 14th place in the NHL's Western Conference.

A victory might have propelled Calgary past San Jose in the standings, no doubt delighting ex-Sharks coach Darryl Sutter, but the Oilers played with great character in the face of adversity and were full measure for the win, their size eventually wearing on the slighter Flames.

This was a bitter, physical, hard-fought contest, as one would expect of any game involving these two teams, the score tied 2-2 entering the third but the Flames finally caving in, the ignominy of thug Georges Laraque scoring the winning marker the ultimate insult.

Laraque had only 6:18 in ice time in this game but he played a pivotal role, trying to initiate fights with Craig Berube and Robyn Regehr, the latter resulting in a penalty which led to a Flames goal. But the gigantic Oilers winner had the final laugh when he was Johnny-On-The-Spot at 8:02 of the third, out-muscling Dave Lowry for the puck in front of the Calgary net and whacking a rebound past Flames starter Roman Turek.

The Oilers added two more from there, one on an odd man break-out with Shawn Horcoff finishing off a play and then an empty net marker from Mike Comrie.

The victory may prove to be an important one for the Oil after trading their leading scorer, Anson Carter, and their top scoring defenceman, Jani Niinimaa, with most of their fans conceding disaster as a consequence the remainder of the season. Edmonton is now seven points up on idle Nashville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, a differential that might just be enough to hold down the stretch although the Predators have two games in hand.

Calgary took the lead twice in this game on goals by Chris Clark and Craig Conroy but the Oilers managed to fight back each time on power play markers by Ryan Smyth and Todd Marchant.

Edmonton outshot the Flames 30-22 and were two for six on the powerplay. Flames were one for five powerplay opportunities.

Next up is Toronto at the Saddledome on Thursday night.

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Edmonton Oilers 5
Calgary Flames 2

1 Ryan Smyth - A goal and a minus one on the night but what a war in front of the Flames net. 

2 Denis Gauthier - Relieved to still be in a Flames uniform, Gauthier spent the night aggravating the Oilers to no end and finished a plus one. 

3 Ales Hemsky - Nifty Oiler may be enough to make Oiler fans forget the absence of Anson Carter, stepping up in this game with plenty of offensive flair.

With the Flames nursing a 2-1 lead, Jason Chimera pounded a turn-around slapper through a maze of players, but Turek somehow saw it coming, dropping down to deflect the puck helplessly to the corner

No shortage of wipeouts in this game but Denis Gauthier laid a shoulder into Jason Chimera along the boards in the Calgary zone, leaving the Edmonton player woozy and causing massive Laraque to go looking for the head of the Flames defencemen.

Hemsky might be the key to the entire bizarre trade scenario enacted by Oiler GM Kevin Lowe. Hemsky, fresh out of junior, started slow, slow, slow this year but is now on a six game point streak and showing the creative streak that attracted Oiler attention in the first place. But that's an awful lot to ask of a 19 year-old in the middle of an NHL playoff race. . . . . . Jarome Iginla led the Flames in ice time with 24:25 and curiously, Toni Lydman was limited to only 20:29 . . . . . . Jordan Leopold was minus three . . . . .Steve Staios could easily have been named a star, a plus three on the evening and leading the Oilers with 27:34 in ice time. . . . . . .Calgary was 46% in the faceoff circle, led by Chris Drury at 56%. . . . . .Marchant was 59% for the Oilers.
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