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Oilers roll to victory over listless Flames

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EDMONTON -- The rebuilding Calgary Flames, out of the playoff race and watching their best players shuffled out the door, were hoping to manufacture the same urgency and intensity as an Edmonton Oilers team in the thick of the playoff chase.

They couldn't.

They fell behind 3-0 in the first period and never mounted anything even closely resembling a comeback attempt in a 4-1 loss.

Not that many expected them to. This was a battle of two teams at the opposite end of the spectrum and it lived up to the anticipated mismatch.

The Oilers are hitting their stride at the right time, with four straight wins and points in nine of their last 11 games while the Flames, still reeling from the Jarome Iginla trade, found out an hour before the game that defenseman Jay Bouwmeester had been traded to St. Louis and Miikka Kiprusoff's is probably on his way out, too.

So it's probably no surprise that Calgary fell behind early and stayed there, losing for the ninth time in 13 games.

"It's pretty obvious what they're doing in Calgary," said Oilers winger Taylor Hall. "But it doesn't change much for us. We still have to win these games. We wanted to jump on them early."

Just like they did in Saturday's 4-0 ambush of Vancouver, the Oilers got to work early, scoring on three of their first six shots to chase Kiprusoff from the net with three minutes left in the first period.

Justin Schultz got the scoring started on the first shot of the game at 3:52. Hall made it 2-0 on Edmonton's second shot of the game at 9:55 and Ryan Jones made it 3-0 on Edmonton's sixth shot of the game at 16:27.

That was it for Kiprusoff, marking the third time in the last four games that the Oilers have chased the other team's starting netminder.

The outburst gave Edmonton seven goals on 16 shots over the last two first periods.

"Like I said before, I'll take a three-goal cushion any night and they went out and did it again," said Oilers netminder Devan Dubnyk, who came 1:25 away from back to back shutouts. "It just puts you in a great spot to win a game. When you start out like that it certainly makes the rest of the game a lot easier."

Nail Yakupov made it 4-0 midway through the third before tough guy Brian McGrattan broke Dubnyk's shutout bid with 1:25 to go.

As for the Flames, it's going to be a long stretch drive.

"It's a result of where we are in the standings is basically what it is," Alex Tanguay said. "For us it's difficult times, difficult situation, especially with what Jarome meant to the franchise, but it's a result of this team not being able to put itself in a playoff spot and not being able to perform to the level we were expecting to perform.

"It's a business of winning; what have you done for me lately, and we haven't made the playoffs the last two years. We're not in the position that it's going to be easy to get ourselves in this year."

Watching teammates get traded is difficult for all involved, but players understand the business side of the sport.

"You have to be professional about it and make sure that when you get into game situations you do your best to help your team win," Tanguay said. "We're still trying to win a few games in a row and see where we can go."

NOTES: The Flames received a conditional first-round draft pick, 22-year-old defenseman Mark Cundari and 26-year-old Swiss goaltender Reto Berra in the trade for Bouwmeester less than an hour before game time ... Kiprusoff has also indicated he'd be willing to accept a trade, though it might be tough to find any takers given that he's given up 36 goals in his last 10 starts and got yanked in the first period Monday night. ... The Oilers signed defenseman Ladislav Smid to a four-year, $14 million contract. The stay-at-home blueliner who's always near the league lead in blocked shots would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency in the summer. ... The Oilers recalled C Anton Lander from Oklahoma City. Lander was scheduled to be recalled before his six-point night last weekend, but it didn't hurt. ... The Flames had won 17 of their previous 20 games with Edmonton heading into Monday's game. ... Tanguay's 25 percent shooting percentage is third best in the NHL.
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