The Edmonton Oilers took on the Calgary Flames in the late window on Hockey Night in Canada, hoping to bounce back after a three-game skid against the Maple Leafs. Goals have been as hard to come by as they’ve been to stop lately for the home side, but there’s no better team to snap a bender against than the Flames. Mike Smith got the nod for Edmonton with Jacob Markstrom his opposite in Calgary’s net.
Dominik Kahun got the game’s first shot after a productive opening shift. Unfortunately, it went downhill from there pretty quickly. The Flames registered the next 10 or 11 shots (depending on when you looked as the shot clock went back and forth somewhere around the 11-1 mark) before Edmonton managed another of their own and didn’t really get going until the second half of the period. Calgary wasn’t generating a ton despite all those shots but the Oilers couldn’t really touch — or, at least hold — the puck for the first 10 minutes.
A brief pushback just past the halfway point was halted via a Kailer Yamamoto slew foot in front of the Flames net that sent the visitors on their first power play. And they made it count.
The Oilers were in a decent spot to clear it after Ethan Bear collected it in the corner. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins then had a chance to do something with it but, for whatever reason, couldn’t. Sean Monahan capitalized and sent it to Elias Lindholm, whose seam pass to Johnny Gaudreau was good enough to beat everyone. Gaudreau one-timed past Smith, who had no real chance. 0-1.
A couple of fights broke out in the minutes following the goal. First, Darnell Nurse and Milan Lucic squared off, before James Neal and Matthew Tkachuk exchanged pleasantries.
Calgary gained a bit of momentum following the goal and accompanying fracas, then drew their second power play through a Leon Draisaitl slash on Gaudreau. This time, the Oilers were able to kill it and stay within striking distance heading into intermission.
Honors even for the first couple of minutes before Edmonton drew their first penalty of the game thanks to Brett Ritchie’s interference. The top unit was a bit sluggish to start but eventually generated a handful of attempts, though they couldn’t solve Markstrom.
A couple of minutes later, Calgary earned another man advantage through another Draisaitl penalty. Edmonton’s PK stood up once again and fought it off, but the Flames capitalized on the momentum and controlled the next couple of shifts before Edmonton stabilized.
And, with just under 3 minutes remaining in the period, they tied it. Jesse Puljujarvi found himself in Kailer Yamamoto’s stead — Tippett was a bit desperate by this point — beside Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. McDavid gathered behind the net before delaying and finding Kris Russell. Russell took a step and fired one on net. It appeared to hit Lindholm en route to Markstrom, who was completely fooled either way. Puljujarvi was Jesse on the Spot and flipped home the rebound. 1-1.
The rest of the period played out to the same score, but the momentum perhaps shifted toward Edmonton after the Flames were probably the better team in the first.
Calgary started the final frame brightly and were rewarded quickly. For whatever reason, Tippett decided to send the Kyle Turris, Jujhar Khaira, and Devin Shore line in front of Russell and Larsson. Predictably, this ended with an extended shift in their zone that culminated with Noah Hanifin beating Smith with a shot you’d expect a bantam goalie to save with real confidence. 1-2.
Edmonton roared back in response and began to take control of the game, largely thanks to the new look top line powered by two Hart Trophy winners. Less than 5 minutes after Hanifin put the Flames in front, the Oilers drew level.
Tyson Barrie found McDavid just outside the Flames blue line with a nice cross-ice pass. McDavid gained the line and dumped it to Draisaitl. Draisaitl made an all-world, no-look pass to a wide open Kailer Yamamoto who had just enough time and space to tie the game. 2-2.
Edmonton continued to press thanks to the growing influence of the new-look top line but also some quality minutes from the Ethan Bear - Caleb Jones pairing behind Nugent-Hopkins, Puljujarvi, and Dominik Kahun. They were rewarded with their second penalty of the game as Tkachuk got the gate for charging in what some might call sweet, sweet justice.
Unfortunately, the power play couldn’t find the go ahead goal. Calgary managed their first attempts at net in what felt like forever immediately following the power play, but Smith answered every question. And then the Oilers went in front for good.
Russell found Yamamoto to key the breakout. He found McDavid at the blue line just in front of Calgary’s bench. McDavid did the rest, peeling in from the left wing before dropping a shoulder and ripping a venomous shot off the bar and beyond a helpless Markstrom. 3-2.
I said for good, so that’s how it ended, but not before both McDavid and Draisaitl missed perfectly fine opportunities to add the empty net insurance. For one second it looked like it might have cost them when Gaudreau found space in front of Smith from just outside the crease.
But, it didn’t. 3-2 final. 2 big points and a nice regulation W following a tough week.
My donair showed up. I don’t have time for this. Big win after a rough start ahead of a few games against Ottawa. Lovely.
That’s how many points McDavid’s had in his last 4 GP, despite going scoreless in 3 of them. That’s a career week for most guys.
Three games against the Senators before heading on the road for another two against Calgary. 5-0-0 is not out of the question, folks.