CALGARY, Alberta -- Edmonton Oilers
left winger Ryan Smyth
surprisingly only scored 24 career goals against the Calgary Flames
Not many were as ugly, yet pretty at the same time, as his first tally in Friday's 2-0 victory for the Oilers over the Flames in the latest installment of the Battle of Alberta.
Smyth suited up against the Flames for the 87th time in his 18-year NHL career and notched the winning tally of the night with the kind of greasy goal he is known for during his career, albeit with a twist.
Late in the first period, Smyth headed to the front of net in anticipation of a pass from right winger Ales Hemsky, and the puck came his way as expected. However, the pass hit him in the chest and ricocheted past Flames goaltender Reto Berra.
"Right in the heart," said Smyth, a heart-and-soul player. "Sometimes you've got to go to the net, the hard areas. I'll take it.
"I just came from behind the net and you never know what will happen. I got the break and it went off the chest and in. Sometimes you've got to pay a price to go the front of the net, and you get rewarded sometimes."
Smyth added an empty netter to his fluky tally, which was deemed a good goal after a lengthy review, while Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk
made 27 saves to record his second shutout of the season.
Although Dubnyk will receive the accolades, it was truly a team shutout. The Flames generated only a handful of legitimate scoring chances before the announced Scotiabank Saddledome sellout crowd of 19,289.
"I think we kept a lot of stuff to the outside and Devan was called upon a couple of times to make some big saves," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "I think that was a real good team (one) but any time your goalie pitches a shutout, he's had a good, good night."
Moments before Smyth's game-winning tally was netted, though, the Flames figured they had opened the scoring when defenseman Mark Giordano
lit the lamp, but the goal was waived off by the officials, who ruled center Joe Colborne had interfered with the Oilers netminder.
"I've got to be careful with what I say, I'm a rookie, so I don't want to get into it too much, but that's a tough one," Colborne said of the ruling. "I thought Gio made a good play faking the shot and that's what caused Dubnyk to go down and have to move, not me, but it's something we're going to have to look at on video."
Still, the Flames weren't about to blame their fate on the officials.
"The bottom line is we didn't play a very good game," Flames coach Bob Hartley said. "I don't think we gave ourselves a chance to win. I didn't think we had our usual jump, whether it's the (three-day Christmas) break or whatever reason, it was the same for the Oilers. They got that first goal and we tried to make a push, but I don't think we were at our best tonight, so we didn't really deserve to win.
"Sometimes games don't go your way. We didn't get the breaks, but at the same time I didn't think we were as good as previous games. Our forechecking game was pretty soft. Our net presence was basically non-existent. We can be better than this and we will. It's just a bad game."
Berra came up with 26 saves in a losing performance for Calgary.
The Oilers, who have won two straight, improve to 13-24-3, while the Flames fall to 14-18-6.
NOTES: Despite leaving the ice in obvious pain during overtime the previous game after suffering a knee-on-knee hit from C David Backes of the St. Louis Blues, Flames C Matt Stajan suited up for the game. Stajan said he didn't believe Backes was being malicious. "It was a bang-bang play, he's trying to hit me and I'm trying to dodge the hit. It happens a lot. He sent me a text after to see if I was OK, which was nice of him. I never thought there was any intent, just frustrated at the time with the way it went down and the heat of the moment," Stajan said ... Oilers captain D Andrew Ference, who spent a few seasons with the Flames, suited up for the 800th regular-season game of his NHL career ... The Oilers summoned D Martin Marincin and C Roman Horak from the AHL Oklahoma City Barons, but neither suited up. The moves were necessitated by putting LW Ryan Jones (concussion) and D Philip Larsen (illness) on the injured list, along with C Mark Arcobello (ribs) ... The Flames are currently only carrying 12 healthy forwards on their active roster, with LW Curtis Glencross (ankle) and C Blair Jones (knee) on the shelf, along with D Dennis Wideman (hand) and D Kris Russell (knee). Only Wideman is expected to possibly return within the next couple of weeks.
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