The Battle of Alberta reached its ninth iteration of the season, and while the Edmonton Oilers are comfortably second in the division, the Calgary Flames are on the hot seat trying to flip their position from fifth to fourth as they continue to chase the Montreal Canadiens.
The first period got underway with the Flames getting ahead early in the game. Just past the six minute mark, Elias Lindholm does what he generally does against the Oilers: he scored. The Flames’ first line made it all happen as a trio, as Johnny Gaudreau picked up an errant pass from Leon Draisaitl to keep the puck in the zone, Matthew Tkachuk corralled it behind the net and Lindholm was exactly where he needed to be to beat Mike Smith.
Not long after, James Neal tied the game up with his first goal since March 10. Not saying anyone’s counting or anything, but Milan Lucic has three goals in the same time frame while Neal’s been a healthy scratch for many games this season.
While the two teams were fairly even after the first period, it was the second that Calgary started playing a more relentless game, with their season pretty much on the line. On an offensive zone faceoff, Lindholm won the draw and immediate got himself in position to tip Rasmus Andersson‘s point shot into the net to restore the Flames’ one goal lead.
The Flames were decidedly better than the Oilers in the second period, and near the end of the frame, Lindholm virtually had an empty net to shoot at on a two-on-one, but Smith made a sprawling save to catch the puck with his glove. Had the puck been just a little more elevated it would have been a hat trick for Lindholm.
In the third, the Oilers pushed back but as the game was approaching its end, Lucic and Dillon Dube were skating into the offensive zone, and Lucic’s initial shot beat Mike Smith, making him think it was a goal, but the puck was instead trickling in the crease. Dube quickly capitalised on the free goal with Smith out of the play and made it a multi-goal lead for the Flames late in the game.
Ultimately, the Flames held on and won the game 3-1. They’re four points back of Montreal with seven games remaining, while the Vancouver Canucks are six points back of the Flames with 12 games left.
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