The two NHL teams from Alberta met in one of those two Alberta cities for an All-Alberta affair that some have called the “Battle of Alberta” even before tonight. Mike Smith was once again in goal for the hosts with Calgary’s $6MM man, Jacob Markstom, in net for the visiting Flames. The Oilers were playing their second in two nights, and third in four, while the Flames also existed and did things before this evening, but who could be bothered to give even one shit about what they do and when they do it?
The first couple of shifts went Edmonton’s way, but it didn’t take long for the apparently desperate, apparently in ‘do or die’ mode, Calgary Flames to crack back and find the game’s first goal.
Leon Draisaitl won the faceoff back to Kris Russell — inexplicably in for Caleb Jones tonight — and, despite having time and control, he passed it off of Matthew Tkachuk and into some danger. The Oilers unraveled from there and before you could say “Why the hell is Kris Russell still playing games for the Edmonton Oilers in 2021” it was off Elias Lindholm’s stick and behind Mike Smith. 0-1.
It remained that way for a few minutes, with both sides taking their turn on the front foot before the Oilers found the equalizer somewhat against the run of play. Josh Archibald started the sequence, springing Russell for a clean, controlled exit. He gained the OZ blue with control, skated to the near wall and dumped off to James Neal with a greenbelt’s worth of space. He took a couple of steps and beat Markstrom cleaner than perhaps he should have, considering the angle. 1-1.
That’s how the first period ended. Edmonton gained a bit of momentum after the goal but couldn’t get their noses in front before the break. No penalties either, in case you were curious, despite a few obvious ones:
At least, I thought it was obvious.
As if the refs read Twitter at intermission, they called four — that’s right, four — penalties in the first 3:41 of the second period. Two for interference, a trip and a hook. These refs are nothing if not embarrassing and terrible.
Calgary were better able to gather some momentum from the Twilight Zone and struck almost immediately afterward. Lindholm again. Again from an OZ faceoff win. This time, the puck worked back to Rasmus Andersson at the right point. His shot caromed off Lindholm’s shin pad and eluded Smith. 1-2.
The Flames continued to assert themselves for most of the rest of the period, but Smith answered all questions posed and the Oilers were able to hang around before Dillon Dube took a goaltender interference penalty with less than a minute left.
Unfortunately, Edmonton couldn’t do much with the abbreviated power play and went into the break down a goal.
The Oilers started the third with 1:16 of power play time but didn’t really do much with it. I think they managed one, maybe two attempts total. They gained a bit of impetus from the power play though and, with Dave Tippett electing to throw Connor McDavid out with Draisaitl and Yamamoto in a classic case of lousy beatniks, were able to sustain a bit of a push for the middle third of the period.
Unfortunately, they weren’t able to find an equalizer and, eventually, the Flames punished them for it. Milan Lucic took a short pass from Andersson at center ice, gained the zone with ease after Darnell Nurse got aggressive at the DZ blue, and fired one that dribbled through Smith and sat in the crease. Dube was first to act, beating Draisaitl to the puck and finishing into the open net. 1-3.
Edmonton got another power play on the ensuing faceoff thanks to a Matthew Tkachuk boarding penalty, but couldn’t make their pressure tell and couldn’t find the equalizer. After that, they appeared to run out of gas. It was their third in four nights, with travel, so you can understand how coming away from that power play still down two goals might have taken the air out of their sails.
A 1-3 final in a game in which neither McDavid or Draisaitl registered a point. Makes sense, if you think about it.
Kris Russell should never again play for the Edmonton Oilers. Why are we still doing this?
Jesse Puljujarvi, despite being out-attempted 5-8 at 5v5 tonight, was good for 56.49% of the expected goals. He took four shifts in the third period.
We can pretty much guarantee that "the organization" is holding Connor McDavid's team back.— Copper & Blue (@CopperandBlue) April 30, 2021
What's up for debate is the degree to which it is Daryl/Bob/Ken/Dave's fault, but there can be no debate that they, as a group, are holding back McDavid. https://t.co/CsIbOQwyEW
That’s how many shifts JP played in the third period. I still can’t believe it.