While the Calgary Flames are probably busy trying to find trade partners to start their NHL trade deadline selloff with how this season has went, beating the Edmonton Oilers will always bring joy even in the darkest of seasons, and the way the Flames did it this time around was just tossing several cherries on top along the way.
The first period was rather unconventional. The game started with a lengthy delay after puck drop thanks to a technical glitch regarding the Oilers and sending in their roster. There were no goals and no penalties, making for a dull start to the Battle of Alberta, but the Flames were buzzing and were getting good chances. However, Mike Smith was up to the task, and Jacob Markstrom was as well.
A scoreless first period wasn’t exactly a bad one for the Flames, who were testing new-look forward combinations that involved splitting up Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. While the buzz was all about seeing Gaudreau play alongside Elias Lindholm and Matthew Tkachuk, the Flames started off seeing better play coming from Monahan with Andrew Mangiapane and Dillon Dube.
Early in the second period, it would be the Flames’ second line opening up the scoring. Mangiapane picked up what would have been a hand pass by Caleb Jones and instead ripped it right to an open Monahan. Smith had little chance on the resulting one-timer.
As the game passed the midpoint mark, the Flames doubled their lead. Noah Hanifin skated with the puck and threaded the needle from below the left circle through to Gaudreau who was got a shot off from below the right circle. For the numerous times that the shot fails for Gaudreau, it’s oh-so-good to see them work, and against the Oilers no less. So far, it looked like splitting up the long-time duo of Gaudreau and Monahan was paying off.
Not long after that, Lindholm added the Flames’ lead by scoring on the power play with the assists coming from Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano. And with less than minute remaining in the period, Giordano joined in on the scoring fun and extended the Flames’ lead to four heading into the final frame.
Side note, Tkachuk was hurt on an awkward hit in the second period but came back out in the third.
While the Oilers were expected to push back, things just weren’t going well for them for much of the game and there was no momentum for the visitors. Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, along with the rest of the Oilers’ offence was nullified.
Late in the third, as the Oilers’ chances of a comeback rapidly evaporated with no goals scored, the Flames sealed the deal with an odd goal from Brett Ritchie that beat Smith’s five-hole and slowly trickled right past the goal line for the Flames’ fifth goal of the night.
The goals scored by the Flames tonight felt extremely reminiscent of 2018-19, where a specific group of players were highly dominant for Calgary. Had Tkachuk been able to get on the scoreboard, it would have been a perfect throwback of the ages, back to a time when the Flames were good, and things were all alright.
Nevertheless, the Flames put together a solid effort against the Oilers. It’s likely too little too late for Calgary’s playoff hopes—they’d need to catch lightning in a bottle to change their end-of-season fate, but it’s nice to see Markstrom pick up a much needed and emphatic win, and of course, for the Flames to come out on top in the Battle of Alberta.
Check out the game visualisations in all their glory below.
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