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Penner helps Oilers edge Flames 2-1 to remain in playoff hunt

Edmonton Oilers defenceman Denis Grebeshkov, right, from Russia, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, from Finland, during third period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Saturday, March 29, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

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Edmonton Oilers defenceman Denis Grebeshkov, right, from Russia, scores on Calgary Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff, from Finland, during third period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Saturday, March 29, 2008. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY - Dustin Penner hopes his game-winning goal against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night wasn't scored in vain.

"It's pretty special," said Penner of his third-period power-play goal, which lead the Oilers to a 2-1 win over the Flames and kept Edmonton's playoff hopes alive. "It's one of those goals you look back on. We'll see how it turns out. We've got two more games, then maybe I'll be able to talk (more) about that one after."

The Oilers improved to 40-34-6 and are now tied with Nashville (39-31-6) and Vancouver (38-30-10) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, but both the Predators and Canucks have two games in hand. The Oilers have just two games remaining, Tuesday at home against the Flames and Thursday in Vancouver.

After two scoreless periods, Matthew Lombardi put the Flames up 1-0 early in the third period before Denis Grebeshkov tied it just 67 seconds later.

Alex Hemsky set up both of the Oiler goals, while goalie Dwayne Roloson finished the game with 31 saves to pick up the win.

The Oilers got a bit lucky in the game's final minute when Alex Tanguay tipped a point shot by Kristian Huselius past Roloson and off the left post. Tanguay raised his arms like he had tied the game while the horn sounded and fans cheered, but neither referee was fooled and play continued.

"The shot was coming to my glove side up head high, and the next thing you know I lost it," Roloson said. "I had no clue where it was and all I heard was Tom Gilbert hollering (that) it went behind me.

"So, I just lay down and next thing you know there are all these fireworks and things going on. I was just trying to find the puck."

The Flames (40-28-10), meanwhile, remain in sixth spot behind the Dallas Stars (43-29-6), who trounced the L.A. Kings 7-2 earlier in the day.

The Flames will play their final four games of the season on the road, starting Sunday in Vancouver.

"Every game's like a playoff game," said forward Daymond Langkow. "We just have to forget about it and focus on tomorrow night's game."

Calgary had the best chance to get on the scoresheet in the first when they had a two-man advantage for 42 seconds after Kyle Brodziak cleared the puck over the glass and was penalized for delay of game.

After taking a hard Dion Phaneuf shot in the ankle, Edmonton defenceman Steve Staios then went flat out to block another point blast by the Calgary defenceman.

"The mindset is I'm looking at Jarome Iginla and I know how much damage that guy can do, so I'm going try and do everything I can to get in that lane and make sure Roli can see it if it does get past me," Staois said. "Five-on-3 you've got to get in some lanes and block some shots."

Early in the second, Miikka Kiprusoff made a nice glove grab on a hard shot off the stick of Edmonton forward Marc Pouliot.

Not to be outdone, Roloson made back-to-back saves on Iginla, who fired three shots in each of the first two periods in search of his 50th goal of the season.

Although neither team scored in the second, there was no absence of physical play especially on the part of Calgary defenders as Cory Sarich levelled Edmonton forward Sam Gagner, Phaneuf laid out Pouliot, while Robyn Regehr hit Hemsky hard into the boards.

Lombardi finally opened the scoring for the Flames at 5:43 when he took a pass from Wayne Primeau and snapped a shot over the outstretched glove of Roloson and into the top corner.

Grebeshkov took advantage of a defensive breakdown on the part of the Flames and crept in off the point before putting a shot between Kiprusoff's legs at 6:50.

With Jim Vandermeer in the penalty box for cross-checking, Penner snapped a shot past Kiprusoff to the far corner at 10:48 of the final frame to give the Oilers the lead for the first time.

Roloson kept the Flames off the scoresheet the rest of the way with several fine saves - including a glove grab off a Phaneuf wrist shot.

"We played a good game but we didn't play with an edge and that's what it would have taken to beat the Oilers," said Calgary coach Mike Keenan.

Notes: After being benched for Calgary's 3-2 win over Vancouver on Tuesday night, forward Huselius returned to the lineup. Keenan coached in his 1,300th regular season NHL game. Kiprusoff remains tied for third with Rejean Lemelin at 144 for most career wins by a Flames' goaltender behind Mike Vernon (262) and Dan Bouchard (168).

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