Game 2 between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers was all but guaranteed to be a different story from Game 1 even before it even started. Both teams needed to tighten up and goaltending needed to be sharper. The outcome of the game would be pivotal as the Flames looked to snap their multi-series losing streak in Game 2s.
The Flames didn’t score twice in the opening minute of the game, so by definition they were off to a slower start compared to Game 1. However, the first goal scored was still very much early in the first period.
A Michael Stone slapshot broke Zach Hyman‘s stick, and as Hyman went to grab another stick, another Stone slapshot was blocked, and then a third slapshot from Stone finally beat Mike Smith even before Hyman was back in the play. Talk about shooting your shot! Creating a man-advantage by destroying sticks with absolute bombs on target. You can’t teach that, that’s innate hockey IQ.
The Flames continued to press and their lead was extended exactly three minutes later as a shot on Smith was fumbled behind him, and Brett Ritchie was there to tuck it into the net.
After the two goals, the game flow completely went off the tracks as there was a plethora of penalties against both teams, mainly roughing calls being handed out left and right. Neither team was successful on their power plays, but the Flames’ penalty killing was impressive, whereas their power play wasn’t particularly effective.
The Oilers cut into the lead with a goal from Duncan Keith. The Flames were extremely sloppy onwards from the Oilers goal and were lucky to escape the period with the one-goal lead.
The Flames had an early power play due to too many Oilers on the ice, and were able to gain control in the offensive zone off the ensuing draw. Darnell Nurse broke his stick by cross-checking Tyler Toffoli‘s arm, but there was no call. Sprawling around without a stick, the defender was exploited and quick puck movement saw the puck land on Toffoli’s stick for a sharp-angle goal.
Right off the goal, coincidental penalties were handed out to Nurse and Matthew Tkachuk to start some 4v4 hockey. The Oilers seemingly scored with Connor McDavid making a nifty move, but the goal was challenged by Darryl Sutter and waived off on the premise of McDavid interfering with Jacob Markstrom.
However, McDavid ended up with the puck on the next play and scored anyway on another deke that beat Markstrom.
Later in the third, Stone was called for a double minor for high sticking, and the Oilers power play converted on the first penalty thanks to a big shot from Evan Bouchard. The Flames had to kill off another straight penalty but were successful in the second half of the double minor.
The period ended with more penalty chaos as Blake Coleman went through the crease on a scoring chance and took Smith out, and coincidental roughing penalties were once again assessed to Andrew Mangiapane and Tyson Barrie for another Oilers power play.
Throughout the first two periods, the Flames’ most impressive player was easily Mikael Backlund, as he had plenty of jump in his game, created offence, played stellar defence, and was just all around the most effective player. Any time he had the puck, magic ensued.
The game saw over 30 minutes’ worth of penalty time assessed over the first 40 minutes, and both teams were able to score on the power play once. The problem with this style of hockey however is that Edmonton thrives on the power play whereas Calgary does not. It’s asking for trouble for the Flames to spend as much time on the penalty kill as they did.
The Flames a strong response opening the third period, unfazed by the tied game. Both teams continued to generate scoring chances, but goaltending on either side was sharp.
With 10 minutes remaining, the Flames went back on the power play. A tipped pass ended up springing Hyman for a breakaway that he converted on for the Oilers’ first lead of the series. The Flames seemingly tied it right after but the play was whistled down early while the puck remained loose in the crease.
The power play ended up unsuccessful and then soon after the Oilers went up by two with a second straight breakaway, this time with Smith springing Leon Draisaitl. The Flames pushed back and responded with a big shift that controlled the offensive zone but weren’t able to score on a few great looks.
As time wound down, the Flames continued to push with sustained pressure. A slashing call on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sent the Flames to an extended six-on-four empty net situation, but neither team scored again.
Edmonton takes Game 2 with a final score of 5–3 to shock the Flames. Calgary’s Game 2 losing streak remains, now spanning a total of 13 series from the 2004 Stanley Cup Final until now (including the qualifying round in 2020). Sometimes, you can’t fight destiny.
Data visualisations from the second playoff bout of the Battle of Alberta below.
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