EDMONTON, Alberta – Jordan Eberle scored a goal in his NHL debut and the Edmonton Oilers got the regular season off to a good start with a 4-0 victory over the rival Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 37 shots for the shutout in his first regular-season start since he injured his back last November.
Gilbert Brule, Ales Hemsky and new captain Shawn Horcoff also scored for the Oilers, who lost all six meetings with the Flames last season en route to the posting the NHL's worst record.
New Oilers head coach Tom Renney celebrated the victory in his debut as Edmonton's bench boss.
It appeared the Oilers scored the first goal 6½ minutes in when Hemsky sent Dustin Penner in alone and he crashed the net while deking goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, but it was waved off because of goaltender interference.
Edmonton eventually grabbed a 1-0 lead at 9:04 during a power play when Brule snapped a shot from the faceoff dot past Kiprusoff. Defenseman Ryan Whitney earned his 200th NHL point on the play.
Edmonton had a host of great chances in the opening period, outshooting Calgary 19-9.
The momentum turned in the second when Calgary held an 18-7 edge in shots, but Khabibulin stood his ground and protected the 1-0 lead after 40 minutes.
The Oilers doubled their advantage 1:24 into the third when Eberle scored a highlight-reel goal. Coming in on a short-handed, 2-on-1 break, and hopping past a diving defender, Eberle put a beautiful backhander past Kiprusoff.
Edmonton took a three-goal lead at 2:43 as Hemsky came down the right side and fired a slap shot that went in off of Kiprusoff.
Just over 5 minutes into the third, the Oilers took a 4-0 on Horcoff's goal. Eberle wristed a shot through traffic during a power play that deflected in off Horcoff.
With just over two minutes left, heavyweights Steve MacIntyre for the Oilers and Calgary counterpart Raitis Ivanans fought. MacIntyre landing a punch that seemed to knock out Ivanans, who was helped off the ice.
NOTES: Calgary outscored Edmonton 24-11 in last season's meetings. ... The Flames haven't had a losing record against the Oilers since the 2000-01 season. ... Horcoff made his debut as the 13th Oilers captain after he was chosen for the position on Tuesday. Hemsky and Ryan Whitney were picked as alternates. ... It was also the NHL debut for Edmonton's highly touted rookies Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi. Hall was the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft. ... Olli Jokinen and Adam Pardy of the Flames returned to action following injuries sustained during training camp. However, forwards Daymond Langkow (neck), Matt Stajan (shoulder), David Moss (shoulder) and Ales Kotalik (knee) all sat out. ... Brendan Morrison, signed as a free agent earlier in the week, made his Flames debut.