The Flames showed no ill effects of last night's game nor any excessive New Year's Eve celebrations in the first forty minutes of tonight's contest against the Oilers, building off of a dominant first period to claim to a 2-1 victory for their season-high fourth consecutive 'W' at Rexall Place.
The first period was all Calgary essentially from the drop of the puck, as the visitors quickly built up an advantage in shots and scoring chances in the opening frame. Shots were 10-1 in favour of the Flames at one point in first period, but Nikolai Khabibulin made several good stops to keep them off the board until Tim Jackman found himself alone in the slot, firing his fifth of the season through the wickets of the Oilers 'tender. The first twenty minutes concluded with the Flames leading 19-3 in shots but just 1-0 on the scoresheet thanks to some nice work by Khabibulin and a little help from his goal post.
The Oilers would tie things up midway through the second period, but it wouldn't last long, as Mark Giordano restored the Flames' lead just four minutes later. The Flames got a bit lucky when the Oilers whiffed on chance with an empty net and Miikka Kiprusoff stranded at the other side of the Calgary cage, but other than that, the hosts didn't present a big threat throughout the latter half of the middle frame. Despite accumulating just seven shots on goal in the period, the Flames limited the Oilers to just eight of their own through forty minutes of play.
In the final frame, things began to run off the rails a bit for the Flames. Late in the third period with the Oilers generating sustained pressure and both outshooting and out-chancing their visitors, Olli Jokinen took a wholly unnecessary delay of game penalty when he fired the puck over the glass with just over two minutes remaining, giving Edmonton a powerplay that would essentially span the remainder of the game. Just when overtime appeared to be inevitable, the Oilers were nabbed for too many men after having pulled Khabibulin for the extra attacker, and the Flames were able to escape a close one unscathed.
The Flames' fourth line had another nice night for themselves, finishing +13 in EV scoring chance differential and +37 in Corsi, as Moss and Jackman each picked up a point in the game. With the exception of the Hagman-Stajan-Kotalik trio, no Flames skater finished underwater in terms of scoring chances, although that line did have a much better evening in terms of possession, finishing +27 in Corsi. Hagman had two top-quality scoring chances fairly early in the first period and I believe Kotalik hit the post at some point, so things aren't exactly going their way at moment, but they should find the twine eventually if they keep up the effort. Overall, Jarome Iginla was the only Flame to finish in the red in Corsi, as the Captain ended the evening with two shots on net in just over twenty minutes of ice time; Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen were even and +1 respectively, as the trio went up against Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner, who was the only Oiler to finish in the black in terms of possession.
After re-taking the lead towards the end of the game's middle frame, the Flames were pretty well in defensive mode the rest of the way. They offered little push-back when faced with increased pressure from the Oilers in the third period and failed to deliver the knockout punch to their injury depleted rivals (at least on the scoresheet, losing Jordan Eberle is another matter). There's no question the Flames deserved to win this game, however; they remained disciplined outside of two infractions, only one of which resulted in a powerplay for the Grease, and never looked to be in complete and total panic mode. Overall, the visitors did what they had to do to win the game despite leaving something to be desired against an opponent lacking much in the way of firepower.
Having clawed their way back to .500 and within five points of a playoff position, things already appear to be looking up for the Flames in 2011.