What a great game for the Flames. After an opening goal from Andrew Mangiapane just eleven seconds (yes, you read that right) into the first period, the Flames never looked back. They chased Mikko Koskinen from the net after four goals, and then scored another goal on former Flames netminder Mike Smith. With the win, the Flames jump ahead of the Oilers in the battle for the playoffs.
5v5 Player Stats
- T.J. Brodie led the way for the Flames with a 57.1% CF.
- Although he had an assist and two shots on goal, Michael Frolik posted a team low 33.3% CF.
- Only five Flames were above 50% CF at 5v5: Brodie, Mark Giordano, Elias Lindholm, Mangiapane, and Matthew Tkachuk. However, when adjusting for score and venue, only six Flames were below 50% CF: Frolik, Tobias Rieder, Sam Bennett, Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington, and Derek Ryan.
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins led the way for the Oilers with a game high 66.7% CF.
- Jujhar Khaira posted a team low 44.4% CF.
- Former Flame James Neal finished with a 57.9% CF, but was -3 with no shots on goal.
Stats courtesy: Natural Stat Trick
Thoughts on the Game
This game did not look like a barn burner most of the way through. Both teams traded chances through the first and the second, with the Oilers actually having a number of quality scoring opportunities. The Flames simply got reliable goaltending, and were able to take advantage of a weak night for Koskinen.
The Flames’ top line of Tkachuk, Mangiapane, and Lindholm had themselves a game. After a few games of struggling to gel, they finally lit up the scoresheet. Mangiapane had his first ever three point night in the NHL, Lindholm had two points, and Tkachuk scored one goal, but made excellent plays off the puck to lead to the other two goals for his linemates.
The one thing that this group, and most of the Flames lines, did really well was pressure the Oilers’ defence in their zone. Playing with a high press, they forced the Oiler defenders to either make a risky pass, dump the puck down the ice, or turn the puck over to the Flames. This is how the Flames were able to get their first goal, off a quality forecheck from Lindholm and Tkachuk, and their second, off of an excellent steal from Mangiapane. Rieder also was very strong at this, and used his speed to get a number of quality scoring chances for the Flames. The Mangiapane play on the second goal is too pretty not to watch again:
They scored five times on Koskinen, including a nice shorthanded marker from Backlund, but they could have had two more as well; both Gaudreau and Giordano had shots hit iron in the game. As the game went on, the Flames got better and better and took control.
The Oilers’ strategy in this game seemed to be to take advantage of the last change and put the Connor McDavid line out against the Flames’ fourth line. While that did seem like a smart strategy, the Flames were very good at keeping his chances to the outside, and the one goal that the Oilers did have came from an unbelievable tip by McDavid off a point shot into traffic. There are some players that will never be stopped entirely, but to limit him to only one goal and to go 2/2 on the penalty kill is a good night for the Flames.
At the end of the day, the Flames were the better team through 60 minutes. They were able to contain the best Oilers’ players, and got good run support from David Rittich. It is hard to fault Koskinen on the goals he let in, as they were all from right in front of the net. The Oilers defenders did not do a good enough job of keeping the Flames out of the slot, and as a result, the Flames came away with two points and the first victory in the Battle of Alberta this season. It was one of, if not their most complete game of the season, and the Flames looked like themselves in this huge rivalry game.
The Gaud, the Bad, and the Beautiful
Good: The Flames had chances from all four lines, and points from players on three of the four lines. A good team effort in the win.
Bad: The third line was not clicking as well as it did when the Flames were struggling. Something to watch for going forward.
Beautiful: Winning the Battle of Alberta in Edmonton is always beautiful.
Opponent: Vancouver Canucks
Standings: 5th in the Pacific
Season Series: 1-0-0
Photo by: Andy Devlin/ NHLI via Getty Images