Jordan Eberle's goal in NHL debut helps Oilers rout Flames

EDMONTON, Alberta -- No matter how many NHL goals Jordan Eberle scores, none might be as pretty as his first.

Eberle scored a beautiful short-handed goal in his NHL debut, Nikolai Khabibulin made 37 saves and the Edmonton Oilers beat the rival Calgary Flames 4-0 on Thursday night.

Eberle's goal gave the Oilers a 2-0 lead and broke open a tight game in the third period. Coming in on a 2-on-1, Eberle hopped past a diving defender, brought the puck across the goalmouth and put a backhander past beaten goalie Miikka Kiprusoff.

"It was one of my nicer goals for sure," Eberle said. "It was one of the more special ones I've had. You don't score your first NHL goal too many times."

Eberle, the Oilers' first-round pick in the 2008 draft, added an assist on Shawn Horcoff's power-play goal that made it 4-0.

"[Eberle is] very smart and has good hockey sense," said Tom Renney, who won in his debut as Oilers coach. "He can process the game at a high speed. I like the way that he thinks the game."

Khabibulin earned the shutout in his first regular-season start since sustaining a back injury last November.

"He was very steady and square to the puck," Renney said. "He gave us a lot of confidence. He's been nothing but professional and a real solid teammate through this whole process. I don't expect that is going to change."

Gilbert Brule, Ales Hemsky and new captain Horcoff also scored for the Oilers, who lost all six meetings with the Flames last season en route to posting the NHL's worst record.

"We didn't have a very good start at all," Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr said. "We played to all of their strengths. We wanted to keep them off the power play because they have three really strong lines up front. And we thought we could exploit a weakness by going after their defensemen. But we didn't start doing any of that until the second period."

It appeared the Oilers scored the first goal 6 minutes in when Hemsky sent Dustin Penner in alone and he crashed the net while deking 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.

Edmonton took a 3-0 lead at 2:43 of the third as Hemsky came down the right side and fired a slap shot that went in off Kiprusoff.

Just more than five minutes into the third, the Oilers took a 4-0 lead on Horcoff's goal. Eberle wristed a shot through traffic during a power play that deflected in off Horcoff.

With just more than two minutes left, heavyweights Steve MacIntyre for the Oilers and Calgary counterpart Raitis Ivanans fought. MacIntyre landed a punch that seemed to knock out Ivanans, who was helped off the ice.

Game 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 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.