After an uneven opening evening to their 2016-17 season, the Calgary Flames were given a helpful do-over by the hockey universe – and the National Hockey League’s schedule-makers. 47 hours after their 7-4 loss in Edmonton, the Flames played host to their old rivals at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The result? Unfortunately, a very similar one. The locals dropped a disappointing 5-3 decision to the Oilers. They were really good for the first 20 minutes but, unfortunately, the game kept going for another 40 and the Oilers were significantly better for the duration.
For those worried after Wednesday’s game, the Flames were a lot better from the get-go tonight. They were skating well, made smart decisions early, and scored early. Deryk Engelland jumped into the rush and had the initial shot on Cam Talbot, but Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan swarmed the rebound and Monahan beat Talbot to make it 1-0. The lead lasted awhile, but after a point shot by Mark Giordano was blocked just inside the Oilers blueline the puck trickled to Connor McDavid. A few seconds later, the puck was in the back of the net after some crazy acceleration by McDavid and a nice move on Brian Elliott.
However, the Flames regained the lead before the period’s end: after being hemmed in their own end for awhile, the Flames escaped and Gaudreau dumped the puck in and headed to the bench. The fresh forwards hauled ass into Edmonton’s zone, Michael Frolik retrieved the puck and managed to beat Talbot from the left faceoff circle with a bunch of bodies in front of the net to make it 2-1.
Miss the first two goals of the season at home? We got them for you! pic.twitter.com/sg8s54JOxS
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) October 15, 2016
Shots were 24-12 for the home side in the opening period. Every single Flames skater aside from Giordano and Brodie had a shot on goal.
The Flames weren’t nearly as good in the second, and the Oilers must’ve made some adjustments in the intermission because they came out looking motivated. With Giordano in the box for a tripping penalty, the Flames PK looked oddly scrambly and unable to clear the zone. That resulted in a wild scramble off an initial save by Elliott, and a Jordan Eberle goal off the rebound confusion to tie the game.
The locals did have a really nice 4-on-3 penalty kill with Dougie Hamilton and Deryk Engelland in the box, but they couldn’t turn it into any momentum of their own. The best Flames chance of the period?
Great Dougie shot and an attempt by Ferland there. pic.twitter.com/Ept2ByGMpj
— FlamesNation (@FlamesNation) October 15, 2016
The shots were 10-3 Edmonton in the second.
If the Flames were a boat, you could say they sprung a leak in the second but kept themselves afloat. They started taking on water early in the third. With Monahan in the box for hooking, a really nice passing play by the Oilers (McDavid to Lucic to Draisaitl, the latter two uncovered at the Flames net-front) led to a tap-in goal and a 3-2 lead. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went off for tripping T.J. Brodie short thereafter, but Mark Letestu beat out both Brodie and Dennis Wideman for a loose puck and beat Elliott on a short-handed breakaway to make it 4-2 for the visitors.
After coincidental minors on Giordano and McDavid (for tripping and diving, respectively), the Flames got a brief 4-on-3 powerplay where they couldn’t generate a controlled zone entry. Their 5-on-4 PP amounted to very little also, but shortly afterwards Kris Versteeg (bumped to the fourth line) found Jyrki Jokipakka sneaking in from the point for a nice wrister that beat Talbot to make it 4-3 and made the final moments of the game a bit more dramatic. The Flames pressed, but Draisaitl added an empty net goal to ice it at 5-3.
Shots in the third were 8-7 for the Flames.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
They were the better team in the first period, by far, but couldn’t bury their chances. Then the Oilers made adjustments and the Flames didn’t and that was that.
If you want to dissect it further? Their special teams were the difference. After out-scoring Edmonton 3-1 between power play and shorthanded goals on Wednesday, they gave up two powerplay goals and a shortie of their own tonight. They out-scored Edmonton at even-strength (and out-shot ’em 30-20), but just couldn’t do enough with their special teams.
THE TURNING POINT
It’s gotta be Draisaitl’s powerplay goal early in the third. The Flames had been fighting the puck in the second but managed not to give away their lead. But the Oilers pressed early, caused the Flames to take a defensive zone penalty, and then scored on the ensuing advantage. The Flames trailed from then on, basically the entire third period. (That PP goal was essentially everything bad you can imagine about the Flames’ PK: everyone clustering at a particular point of the ice to create pressure, leaving a couple guys wide open for passes.)
Let’s go with Dougie Hamilton, who looked like a man renewed with a new defensive partner in Jyrki Jokipakka. He played pretty well, had four shots and wasn’t on the ice for any of Edmonton’s five goals.
Other than him? Tkachuk and Bennett had some nice flashes, but they didn’t amount to much tonight. And don’t hate me, but I thought Engelland was pretty good tonight. His jumping into the rush early and making the initial shot created the opening goal.
(All numbers are all situations.)
THIS AND THAT
This happened late in the second.
idk if i’ve ever seen this before on a national broadcast lol pic.twitter.com/LxstPXLWHq
— (all) hayley(s eve) (@raaaleigh) October 15, 2016
Meanwhile in Calgary… pic.twitter.com/YjiqBHEhmR
— AOL Keyword: Mike (@mikeFAIL) October 15, 2016
There were a ton of scouts at the ‘Dome tonight, something I can’t help but think will be a trend all season long based on the upcoming expansion draft. Not only were there many pro scouts, but there were many key hockey operations figures: Anaheim’s assistant to the GM, the director of pro scouting for Chicago and Ottawa, and the head pro scouts from Florida and Winnipeg. Every team likely wants to have a handle on what players are going to be available in the expansion draft (in an effort to upgrade their squads prior to the draft).
“We got out of our rhythm, tried to do things by ourselves a little bit. The third period I thought we came back okay, but special teams was the difference.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan assessing the game.
“It’s disappointing when…the first period was pretty good, for whatever reason in the second we started chasing it a bit and again, weren’t making clean plays and giving them speed through the neutral zone. We’ve got to be a lot better in a lot of areas. Special teams was number one tonight.” – Flames captain Mark Giordano.
Mason McDonald made his pro debut, starting between the pipes as the Adirondack Thunder began their season! The Thunder won in a shootout. Tyler Parsons posted an 18-save shutout in London’s 4-0 win over Sarnia. Matthew Phillips had a hat trick (and an assist) in Victoria’s 6-1 win against Edmonton. Nick Schneider picked up the win as Medicine Hat trounced the Hitmen 7-2.
The Flames (0-2-0) are immediately back on the road, heading to the west coast to play the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow night in the late game on Hockey Night in Canada. Despite the wacky weather out west, it seems like the Flames should be able to get there for the game.
YVR is fully operational. Crosswind runway in use ?
— Vancouver Airport (@yvrairport) October 14, 2016
To everyone on the coast: stay safe and dry, and please don’t blow away.