The Edmonton Oilers (26-18-5) returned to action tonight to host their southbound rival Calgary Flames (26-19-6) in the most highly anticipated Battle of Alberta in some time. One point separated the two teams coming in, and with Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk’s antics adding a little extra buzz to the whole affair, the hockey world was tuned in to this one.
Edmonton had been off for almost two weeks heading into tonight’s game, and it showed early. The Flames wasted no time jumping on the hosts’ slow start. Elias Lindholm skated up the right side before throwing a pass in front that deflected off of Adam Larsson and past Mike Smith to put Calgary ahead 61 seconds into the game. 0-1.
Calgary seized the momentum after the early goal and pressed the issue, forcing the Oilers to defend for the next few minutes.
But at about the midpoint, the worm turned for the hosts, and they began to take over at even strength. David Rittich was called into action on a number of occasions and kept the Flames in front despite a few really good looks for Edmonton, including a number of high-danger opportunities.
This game was chippy throughout the first period, too, and it wasn’t long before some of that boiled over into a bit of scrapping. Two unlikely combatants in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Monahan found themselves gloveless and punching after trading stickwork, before Kassian and Tkachuk obliged less than a minute later.
A bit of a letdown, to be honest. But no matter.
The Oilers continued to press toward the end of the period but couldn’t find a breakthrough, and the score remained 0-1 after 20 minutes.
Mike Smith was up to his old tricks again early in period two, taking a penalty for delay of game for sending a puck into the fifth row less than 3 minutes in. He could have been called for another penalty on the same play, too, as he did it from outside the trapezoid. Luckily, the Oilers were able to kill off the ensuing penalty.
A few minutes later, Edmonton found their equalizer. An OZ faceoff win by Leon Draisaitl allowed Nugent-Hopkins to gather and fire toward net. The rebound sat for Kailer Yamamoto, who prodded home to level the score. 1-1.
The agitation from the first continued through the second period, with Draisaitl and Tkachuk both getting the gate for slashing a few minutes later. No damage came from the 4v4 situation.
The two teams traded chances throughout the middle portion of the middle frame, before Andrew Mangiapane put the visitors ahead once again. Newly extended Zack Kassian was beat to the puck along the wall, leading to a breakdown in coverage and some space for Mangiapane to sneak into and beat Smith clean from. 1-2.
Shortly after, Mark Giordano was called for a ticky-tack slash on Sam Gagner.
Edmonton’s 1PP hopped over the boards and made the Calgary captain pay. After losing the zone on the initial OZ faceoff, the Oilers regrouped in short order before flinging it around the zone and creating space for Alex Chiasson in front. The puck eventually made its way to him and he made no mistake, boxing out the defender before banging it in to tie the game. 2-2.
Unfortunately, Calgary would strike once more before the second intermission through Mangiapane again. A breakdown between Riley Sheahan, Kris Russell, and Matt Benning created a ton of room in front of Smith and, again, Mangiapane made no mistake. 2-3.
No more damage at the end of the period but the hot topic at intermission was Mark Giordano’s obviously horse shit dirty attempt at breaking McDavid’s left leg for a second time in a calendar year. Fuck that guy. McDavid and Draisaitl were furious on the bench at the no call. George Parros and Stephen Walkom were in the building to witness the latest masterclass in dogshittery from the guys wearing stripes. The internal audit certainly didn’t improve the quality of their work.
The Oilers started period three with some impetus, looking to find the equalizer early. This pressure led to the Flames taking a few penalties. First for too many men before Zac Rinaldo sat for cross checking Russell.
Neither power play provided Edmonton with the tying goal they so desperately needed, but the momentum was clearly theirs. Rittich again had to be solid to preserve Calgary’s lead, and he was.
Until the 11 minute mark. Matt Benning, playing in his first game in forever after dealing with two concussions in a week, absolutely eviscerated some poor soul playing LD before slipping a sneaky one through Rittich’s five hole to tie it. 3-3. Eruption. Elation. Let’s go.
Recent call up Buddy Robinson found himself in the penalty box with less than 5 minutes to go. Unfortunately, the vaunted Oilers PP couldn’t find its rhythm after the Chiasson goal, and Calgary managed to survive the Edmonton press to reach overtime. 3-3 after 60 minutes. One point earned. One more to play for.
Whoever said that cocaine is a hell of a drug has never watched the Oilers and Flames in overtime.
Chances everywhere. Cardiac arrests. This overtime had it all.
Except a game winner. This one required a shootout.
RNH. Post. 0-0.
Sean Monahan. Goal. 0-1.
McDavid. Post. 0-0.
Tkachuk. Saved. 0-1.
Draisaitl. Saved. 0-1.
Pure entertainment. That was a fun hockey game to watch, and it’s been awhile since I said that about an Oilers loss. Edmonton was full value for this one and you might argue they deserved better after outshooting and outchancing their historical rivals.
Mike Smith looked bum average on a couple of the goals against but also made two insane breakway saves late in the third period and in overtime to keep the Oilers alive.
Jujhar Khaira is struggling at the moment. If I’m Tyler Benson I’m genuinely concerned about what I have to do to get a job on this team. But Joakim Nygard blocked a shot in the first period with his arm that saw him leave the game for good, so if he misses any time moving forward perhaps they can make room for Benson.
Still can’t get over that Giordano hit. If the league doesn’t have a little chat with the man who submarined McDavid in April and sat for two games last season for doing the same thing to Mikko Koivu he tried to do to Connor McDavid tonight. I gave him the benefit of the doubt in April, too. What a fool I was.
All numbers 5v5 and courtesy Natural Stat Trick.
CF%: 48-40 — 54.55%
FF%: 38-30 — 55.88%
SCF%: 23-14 — 62.16%
HDCF%: 9-6 — 60.00%
Shots: 27-20 — 57.45%
XG: — 1.96 - 1.13 — 63.36%
Golazos: 2-3 — 40%
Edmonton welcomes the St. Louis Blues (31-12-8) to Edmonton on Friday night before heading back to Calgary for a rematch with the Flames on Saturday.