The Calgary Flames faced off against the Edmonton Oilers for the third iteration of this season’s Battle of Alberta. The Oilers won the first two games, but these two teams came into the game trending in different directions. While the Flames are making a strong push to win the Pacific Division, the Oilers are outside of the playoffs looking to claw back into the second wild card spot.
Calgary started Jacob Markstrom as their starter while the Oilers turned to Mikko Koskinen—Mike Smith was out of the game with an illness.
The first period was quite uneventful—especially for a Battle of Alberta. Neither team was particularly dominant over the other. While there were chances on either end, the period ended up low-event, and it was deadlocked at 0–0 after one.
In the second period, the Flames struck first on the power play. Johnny Gaudreau passed the puck to Matthew Tkachuk, who was parked in front of the net and immediately tried to go between his legs for a shot attempt. However, his stick was tied up and the puck went through the crease right to an open Tyler Toffoli for the game’s first goal.
Gaudreau’s assist on the goal would be his 50th assist of the season.
A few minutes later, Toffoli’s new line entered the offensive zone on a transition play. Andrew Mangiapane passed the puck through the neutral zone and Adam Ruzicka entered the zone, quickly dished it off to Toffoli. With time and space, Toffoli sniped his second of the game over Koskinen’s glove.
Just like that, Toffoli scored his sixth and seventh goals as a Calgary Flame, doing so in just nine and a half games. Ruzicka picked up a perfectly executed primary assist slotting back into the lineup, previously being scratched the last four contests.
Calgary went into the second intermission with a healthy two-goal lead, which wasn’t a bad place to be against the Oilers.
The Flames found themselves in the penalty box quite frequently in the game, and the Oilers went on their fourth power play just 40 seconds into the third period. However, Calgary’s penalty kill completely stifled the Oilers, limiting them to three shots over four opportunities.
Just before the five minute mark of the final frame, the Oilers caught a break. A wide shot by Darnell Nurse took a weird bounce off the back boards, then ricocheted off of a referee’s skate. The original trajectory might have saw the puck clear the zone, but instead the puck was corralled by Derek Ryan for a shot and the rebound went to Devin Shore with a wide open net to shoot at.
After ceding the unlucky goal, the Flames had a couple of straight power plays where they finally turned the momentum back in their favour. Prior to this, the Flames seemingly keeled back instead of pressed for a larger lead.
To be fair, Calgary has five games slotted in the schedule this week so preserving energy wouldn’t be the worst strategy. Their slate of games includes hosting the Washington Capitals tomorrow, hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning two days later, and then have another back-to-back set playing against the Detroit Red Wings at home then heading to Denver to face the Colorado Avalanche.
However, the back-to-back power plays did turn the tides back for the home team as mentioned. Not long after the second power play expired and the game was down to its final three minutes, Gaudreau was sprung on a breakaway by Elias Lindholm. The duo would combine for another Gaudreau breakaway goal, making it two straight games they’ve connected. This time, Gaudreau tucked the puck past Koskinen’s pad to restore the two-goal lead.
The Oilers pulled Koskinen for the extra attacker but were unable to score again. Calgary picked up their first win against Edmonton of the season, and extend their lead in the Pacific Division with the gutsy effort.
Check out the data visualisations from the game below!
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