Calgary Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf, right, celebrates his goal with teammate Jarome Iginla during third period NHL hockey action against the Vancouver Canucks in Calgary Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009. The Calgary Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-3. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CALGARY - After winning their first season-opening game in seven seasons, the Calgary Flames have their sights set on improving to 2-0 when they visit the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night (CBC, 10 p.m. ET).
"It's early," Calgary captain Jarome Iginla said on Friday, the day after his Flames beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-3 at the Pengrowth Saddledome. "It's only our first game of the year. It feels good to get the win, but we know there's more to improve (upon) and it's not maybe our best game."
Calgary jumped out to leads of 3-0 and 4-1 before Vancouver pulled to within a goal in the final frame, when the Canucks outshot the Flames by a 21-7 margin.
"We sat back and we let them dictate how the game was going to be played," said Calgary coach Brent Sutter, who's looking for his squad to play better defensively while still maintaining a solid forecheck game against the Oilers. "I don't want to be a team that sits back. It's not the way to play the game."
Following practice in Calgary on Friday, forward Daymond Langkow said the Flames worked on addressing how they nearly let a pair of three-goal leads slip away against the Canucks.
"We looked at some video this morning and we'll just try to correct the mistakes we made and move on," Langkow said. "We need to have better defensive zone coverage and better decisions with the puck in the neutral zone. I think one of our strong points is our forecheck. It's hard to do that when you don't have the puck."
After victimizing Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo for three goals on seven shots in the first period, the Flames hope to have similar success against Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, who signed a four-year, $15-million contract with the Oilers in early July.
"That's another great goalie over there," said Flames defenceman Mark Giordano who had a good start to his season with a goal and an assist against the Canucks.
Langkow agreed with Giordano's assessment of Khabibulin, who's had considerable success against Calgary during his career, including backstopping the Tampa Bay Lightning to a Stanley Cup finals victory in seven games over the Flames in 2004.
"Obviously he's a top goalie in the league," said Langkow, noting that the Flames will have to stick to the basics to have success against Khabibulin. "For goalies, it's hard to stop what you don't see, so just get traffic going to the front of the net and then bear down when the puck's in front."
At the other end of the ice, the Flames will be looking for Kiprusoff to build upon the first-star performance he earned against the Canucks after stopping 39 shots fired his way.
"It's the first win and it's good," said Kiprusoff. "You go one game at a time. We need to not think about too much what happened in the home opener. I'm going to do everything to help this team to get two points tomorrow."
Playing on a line with Olli Jokinen and David Moss, Iginla admitted to not having one of his best games against Vancouver.
"As a line, it wasn't our best game, but we were part of a win and we look to get better for next game," said Iginla, who always gets fired up for the Battle of Alberta. "I absolutely get up for them. You try to be up for every game, but it is exciting to play in the Battle of Alberta, and to play Vancouver a two division rivals."
"They are the two teams we enjoy playing the most and we enjoy beating the most. I'm sure the feeling is mutual the other way and our fans enjoy it on both sides."
For Sutter, it will be his first taste of the Edmonton-Calgary rivalry as head coach of the Flames.
"I know what it's about here," Sutter said. "You've got to expect it to heat up starting tomorrow night."