Stempniak leads Flames past Oilers 4-3
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) Lee Stempniak is off to a fast start - and he hopes to keep it going throughout the season.
``I've been trying to be more consistent,'' said Stempniak, who scored 14 goals last season, his first with the Flames. ``Unfortunately, I've sort of been a streaky scorer in the past. I'm trying to take the same approach and be consistent and hopefully the scoring will become more consistent as we go along.''
Stempniak had a career-high 28 goals three years ago, 14 of which came in 18 games after he was acquired by the Phoenix Coyotes. The next year, he had 19.
``You take it while you can and today I got a great pass from (Jay) Bouwmeester and it was pretty easy to put that one in,'' Stempniak said.
His power-play goal at 14:57 of the second period, restoring a two-goal cushion for the Flames at 4-2, would turn out to be the winning goal as the Oilers got a goal from Sam Gagner with 2 seconds left in the game.
``We knew Calgary was going to bring their `A' game today,'' Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. ``They truly did play hard and strong through the game and didn't give us much, but at the same time, we're not pleased with some of the execution.''
On the decisive goal, Bouwmeester pinched in from the blue-line, made a slick move to fool Ladislav Smid, then zipped a hard pass across the top of the crease that was neatly deflected in by Stempniak.
``Bouwmeester was flying tonight,'' said new Flames coach Bob Hartley, celebrating his first win. ``We saw the real Jay Bouwmeester, a guy that took charge, wanted the puck, made a great play on Lee Stempniak's goal. He was a quarterback out there.''
Often the object of fan criticism since signing a lucrative free agent contract with the Flames three years ago, Bouwmeester appeared energized all night, constantly jumping up into the rush. After scoring 12, 15 and 15 goals his final three seasons with Florida, he has scored 12 goals combined in three seasons with the Flames.
``That's the kind of hockey that Jay Bouwmeeester can bring to us and he has the green light,'' Hartley said. ``He has the speed to create offense and if he doesn't, he has the speed to come back. We're telling him that we want him to create a good second wave for us, to make sure he's always in the play, always active and that's hard to defend.''
New Czech acquisitions Jiri Hudler and Roman Cervenka both played well for the Flames in their debut. Hudler got in on the scoring with an assist.
``With those two guys, it's puck control, hockey sense and vision,'' Hartley said. ``In the second period, there was that one shift that there were tic-tac-toes all over the ice and I thought the fans really appreciated this and we even had a few fans on the bench.''
The Oilers entered the night not having led yet in a game and that trend continued as goals by Backlund and Bouwmeester gave Calgary a 2-0 first period lead. They cut the gap to one when Schultz scored just 5 seconds into a power play.
However, Calgary restored its two-goal lead four minutes into the second when Jarome Iginla's centering pass was tapped in by Glencross.
``We got off to bad start in all three periods and that's something we can work on,'' Schultz said.
NOTES: Calgary has won 10 of the last 12 games between the two teams. ... Since Taylor Hall was born 21 years ago, Calgary and Edmonton have made the playoffs in the same season only once - in 2005-06. ... With the debut of Hudler and Cervenka, the Flames had two Czechs in their lineup for the first time since Jan. 29, 2003, when they had Petr Buzek and Roman Turek. ... The teams don't meet again until April 1. They'll meet three times in the season's final month. ... After this four-day layoff, Calgary's has no more than two days off between games the rest of the season.