In the last meeting between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers in the 2021–22 regular season, the Flames were looking to tie the season series up—having lost twice to Edmonton so far. Coincidentally, the two teams have been two of the winningest teams in the league over the past month, so it was easily going to be one of the most anticipated matchups of the season.
Having picked up a 4–2 win over the Arizona Coyotes the night before, the Flames interestingly opted to start Jacob Markstrom again. As luck would have it, the first shot he faced was a tipped shot by one of Edmonton’s trade deadline acquisitions Derick Brassard, and the Oilers would go up 1–0 just half a minute into the game.
Five minutes later, the Flames answered. The reunited first line of Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm were passing and transitioning into the Oilers’ zone. Lindholm was passed the puck and he tucked a nifty backhand past Mikko Koskinen to tie it up at one goal apiece.
Later in the period, the Flames got their first lead of the game. Transitioning out of their zone, Chris Tanev was the first defenceman into the zone and he received a pass from Blake Coleman. His shot was initially saved but Darnell Nurse accidentally put it into his own net.
Sixteen seconds after the goal, the Flames added to their lead. Tyler Toffoli was controlling the puck along the boards, passed it to Andrew Mangiapane behind the net, and a quick backhand pass into the slot found Mikael Backlund who made no mistake.
Unfortunately with one minute remaining in the first period, the Oilers drew back within one. Leon Draisaitl entered the Flames’ zone and got past Calgary’s defencemen. Making a quick move in front of the crease, he beat Markstrom for the late goal. A five-goal first period saw the Flames escape with the lead, but Backlund was in the penalty box to open the period after taking a late penalty.
The Oilers’ power play started the period with strong passing and it ended with Draisaitl picking up his second goal of the game with textbook passing. Just like that, the game was tied 3–3.
A couple minutes later, Chris Tanev sprung Gaudreau on a stretch pass, and despite not getting a clear breakaway, Gaudreau had the puck on a string and drew a couple Oilers towards him. He got a backhand pass to Oliver Kylington who had a wide open net to shoot at.
The Flames almost immediately went back on the penalty kill though, and the Oilers capitalised on the man-advantage yet again. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was a trailing forward that went undetected and he got a quick shot off before Tanev was able to recover the position. The score was 4–4 with less than 24 minutes of the hockey game elapsing.
Just over a minute after the Oilers tied it up, Tanev once again tried to spring Gaudreau. In a foot race with Evan Bouchard, Gaudreau outmuscled the defender and got possession of the puck. Instead of taking a shot, he passed it to Tkachuk who patiently waited to pick his spot to shoot at. One-goal lead for Calgary restored. The goal ended up chasing Koskinen, and in came Mike Smith in relief.
There was something magical going on with Gaudreau in the game, as he was once again buzzing in the offensive zone. He had possession of the puck and evaded several Oilers with some smooth skating and stickhandling, but was pokechecked by McDavid. Instead of the puck exiting the zone, Noah Hanifin kept it in and immediately passed it back to Gaudreau. He found Tkachuk alone in front of the net who made no mistake scoring his second of the game and the first goal on Smith. 6–4 Flames.
Before the midway mark of the period, the Oilers were on a lengthy 5v3 power play, and while on the two-man advantage, the Oilers scored yet again—Draisaitl picking up his hat trick goal to pull the Oilers back within one.
The five-goal first period was trumped with a six-goal second, but the Flames went into the intermission again with a one-goal lead.
The Flames opened the period on the power play with a call going against Brassard at the end of the second, but were unable to get a shot off on the man-advantage. After the power play concluded, there was a sloppy line change by the Flames that led to a Grade-A chance for the Oilers, but Markstrom made a highlight-reel save to maintain the one-goal lead.
Not long after the save, the Flames’ first line was in the Oilers zone and they connected once again. Passes connected from Tkachuk to Gaudreau to Lindholm, and boom—another goal for Calgary. Lindholm’s 34th goal of the season also made for Tkachuk’s 50th assist and Gaudreau’s 60th assist.
Three minutes after, the Flames added to their lead again as Backlund scored his second of the game as his line transitioned into the offensive zone. Toffoli was also open for a pass, but Backlund elected to take the shot. 8–5 Flames. As the game waned down to 10 minutes remaining, the two teams were tied with 30 shots apiece, but the Flames had a commanding three-goal lead.
With just under six minutes to go in the game, the Flames added yet another goal as Dillon Dube scored from in close on a bit of a broken play with Backlund and himself. Nevertheless, the puck landed on Dube’s stick right in front of the net and he shot it high above Smith’s blocker.
“We want 10, we want 10,” the crowd in the Saddledome started to chant, and for what it’s worth it sure looked like the Flames did too. They got close, but no dice on the efforts for double-digit scoring. Tkachuk, Lindholm, and Backlund all had two-goal nights, and Gaudreau picked up a career-high five assists.
This game might have signalled to the Oilers that adding Brassard and Brett Kulak did not and will not solve their goaltending woes and their team remains inherently flawed. If you’re facing one of the best 5v5 teams in the league and you let up nine 5v5 goals—that’s going to spell trouble in the playoffs.
The game was definitely a track meet, but the more complete team walked away with the victory and the Flames did so in emphatic manner. Both teams will want to quickly forget the result of this game and get back on track with tighter systems and better defence. The two teams end the regular season series tied with two wins each, but the Flames get the last laugh for now. Check out the game visualisations below!
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