Jordan Eberle's strong debut, Nikolai Khabibulin's shutout help Oilers top Flames 4-0

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for eberlehallpaajarvi-edmontonjournal-macwilliam.jpegEdmonton Oilers 4, Calgary Flames 0

Last season, you might have been able to summarize the Edmonton Oilers’ many miseries simply by pointing to their record against the Calgary Flames in the so-called Battle of Alberta: 0-6. In the first time in the 29 years the two spirited rivals squared off, the Oil couldn’t manage a single “W.”

It’s easy to overreact to a single game of success (or failure), but one thing is certainly different from this season to last: the Oilers won’t be swept by the Flames again.

While the other two members of the Oilers “Big Three” (Taylor Hall and Magnus Paajarvi) were held off the scoreboard, Jordan Eberle scored what might have been the goal of the night while playing on the penalty kill. Take a look at this beauty of a goal in his NHL debut.

The Oilers reaped the rewards of their “old” young players, too, as Ales Hemsky celebrated his return from last year’s season-ending injury with a goal while Shawn Horcoff and Gilbert Brule also provided tallies for Edmonton. Ryan Whitney earned two assists in the game as well.

He might not be all the way out of his legal troubles, but for at least one night, Nikolai Khabibulin looked like the goalie worthy of the wacky contract the Oilers gave him. The troubled Russian stopped all 37 shots to earn an opening night shutout.

Click here for the box score and here for the Associated Press recap (although note that Eberle was credited with a goal and an assist, not two goals).

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    Video: Canucks escape Arizona with another win for the moms

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    With their mothers traveling on the road trip — Matt Bartkowski‘s mom, Beth, has become a cult hero in Vancouver after another priceless media interview — the Canucks took back-to-back wins, moving them right back into the thick of the playoff fight in the Western Conference.

    After beating the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday, the Canucks held on for the 2-1 victory in Arizona on Wednesday, despite being without Brandon Sutter (broken jaw), Alex Edler (broken fibula) and Derek Dorsett, who was scratched from the lineup due to illness, as per Sportsnet’s Dan Murphy.

    It was only a few days ago, following a home loss to the Calgary Flames, that it felt like the Canucks’ playoff hopes were essentially dashed. They fielded their healthiest lineup in months and couldn’t score and couldn’t win.

    Two quick wins later, they’re two points out of a Wild Card spot in the West, despite getting outshot in Arizona.

    Up by a goal in the third period, defenseman Alex Biega played the hero, pulling the puck out of the crease after it got by Ryan Miller on a backhand shot from Kyle Chipchura, maintaining Vancouver’s lead.

    Phaneuf burned on Zetterberg game-winner in Sens debut

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    A day after getting traded out of Toronto, Dion Phaneuf made his Ottawa Senators debut.

    It ended with a 3-1 road loss for the Senators, and Phaneuf getting burned by Henrik Zetterberg on the eventual game winner early in the third period.

    Zetterberg picked up the puck near the Ottawa blue line, beat Phaneuf to the outside, slipped the puck under the stick of the Sens’ newest blue liner and quickly roofed his shot on Craig Anderson.

    “He made a real good play and you’ve got to give credit when credit is due,” Phaneuf told the Ottawa Sun.

    “I put my stick there, he put (the puck) under and he made a good shot. I’ve got to have a better stick in that situation, but you’ve got to give him credit for that play.”

    Phaneuf finished the night with a minus-one rating and two hits in almost 22 minutes of ice time, putting him second among Sens defensemen in that category behind Erik Karlsson, who played a whopping 33:30.

    Phaneuf drilled Red Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser with a hard slap shot early in the third period.

    DeKeyser played one more shift — all of 10 seconds — before exiting the game.

    Video: Rangers shut out red-hot Sidney Crosby and the Penguins

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    The New York Rangers are likely too far behind the Washington Capitals to take any legitimate run at the Atlantic Division down the stretch.

    But winners now of four straight, the Rangers have opened up a bit of a gap between them and other Eastern Conference teams in the playoff race. New York scored a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, winners in six of their last seven games, on Wednesday.

    In the process, they held a red-hot Sidney Crosby off the score sheet, which has been a difficult, sometimes impossible task for opposing teams since about the middle of December. He entered this game with a seven-game scoring streak.

    (In fact, New York held No. 87 to without a shot on goal in the entire game.)

    Henrik Lundqvist stopped all 34 shots he faced for the shutout.

    Kevin Hayes gave the Rangers the lead in the first period, before Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast put the game away in the third.

    Pittsburgh remains in the second Wild Card spot in the East. The Rangers now move three points clear of the rival Islanders for second in the Metropolitan.