The final edition of the Battle of Alberta was a big one for both teams, but more so for the Calgary Flames. In this 10th meeting between the provincial rivals, the Oilers came away with the win, keeping the Flames eight points back of the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division.
They were decidedly lethargic in the matchup on Thursday night, but the Oilers opened the first period flying. On an early powerplay, Connor McDavid turned on the magic. Weaving his way between all four Flames defenders, he beat Jacob Markstrom with a dandy of a shot to give the Oilers the lead.
Still in the first half of the period, McDavid again entered the Flames zone and rifled a pass over to Ethan Bear on the left faceoff dot. His one timer put the Oilers up by two, and it wasn’t looking good. The first period ended with the Oilers owning a two goal lead. The Flames were not without their chances, though. Mike Smith stood tall in the Oilers net and made a number of key saves on Andrew Mangiapane and Matthew Tkachuk in the period.
The second period saw the Flames push back. After Johnny Gaudreau hit the crossbar on a shot that beat Smith clean, he managed to bury a puck in the back of the Oilers net on a bit of a broken play led by Tkachuk. It was a huge goal that gave the Flames some life, and the game was within reach. They outshot the Oilers 12-9 in the period, but only mustered the one goal.
Desperate to tie the game in the third, the Flames outshot the Oilers once again, but weren’t able to beat Smith. The Oilers added two empty netters to win 4-1. With the Canadiens winning earlier in the evening, this was a critical game the Flames had to have. This loss was a serious blow to their playoff chances as they sit eight points back with just six games remaining.
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