The Edmonton Oilers spent much of last night trying to swat gnat-sized Theoren Fleury. But the 5-foot-6, 160-pound center for the Calgary Flames wouldn't go away.
Fleury challenged Edmonton's Craig Muni and Petr Klima after they knocked him down, then scored the game-winning goal late in the second period in Edmonton as the Flames won Round 1 of the battle of Alberta, 2-1.
The only thing that slowed down Fleury were the boards -- he tripped over the sideboards and fell when he was announced as the second star of the game.
But that was about the only thing the Flames did wrong all night. They controlled the tempo throughout and outshot Edmonton 31-16. Only Bill Ranford's sterling play in goal kept the Oilers close.
"We got the goal that counted and we were able to put up a good defense and hold them to relatively few scoring chances in the third period," Fleury said.
Edmonton took a 1-0 lead 4:56 into the game when Dave Brown converted Klima's centering pass after a giveaway by Al MacInnis in the neutral zone. It was Brown's first goal in 138 games dating to the 1987-88 season, when he was with Philadelphia.
Brian MacLellan pulled the Flames even at 8:59 of the second period when he took Mark Hunter's pass in the slot, shifted the puck to his forehand and beat Ranford for his third goal.
Fleury gave Calgary a 2-1 edge at 14:09 with Oilers defenseman Kevin Lowe off for interference. He slipped behind the defense and deflected MacInnis's low point shot past Ranford for his fourth goal.
Ranford stopped everything else, but it wasn't enough.
"They played a good hockey game, we only had 16 shots," said Ranford. "But that's the thing that we've got to turn around. We can't get discouraged, it's still early in the season. They played a good hockey game and we didn't."
Canucks 3, Nordiques 2: Steve Bozek scored at 10:51 of the third period to snap a 1-1 tie and added an insurance goal five minutes later for visiting Vancouver.
"As a fourth-line center and fill-in guy, I don't think I need a lot of ice time," said Bozek, who is getting extra playing time because of an injury to Greg Adams.
Journeyman Bozek took a shovel pass from Brian Bradley and kept his 10-foot shot low, under the glove of goaltender Ron Tugnutt.
Bozek made it 3-1 at 16:11 when he swiped at a loose puck inches from the Nordiques' goal line, sending it past Tugnutt, who was just about to cover the puck. Tugnutt suffered his first loss of the season after winning two and tying two.
The second goal proved to be the winner when Swedish rookie Mats Sundin scored with eight seconds left.
Blackhawks 7, North Stars 1: Defenseman Chris Chelios, benched earlier in the week for poor play, had a goal and three assists for a career-best four points in Chicago.
Goalie Jacques Cloutier, also in Coach Mike Keenan's doghouse for ineffective play, stopped 24 shots for his first victory of the season. He lost his shutout with 2:47 left on a goal by Mike Modano.