(Perry Nelson / USA Today Sports)
On Friday night the Calgary Flames played 60 uninspired minutes against the New Jersey Devils. To nobody’s great shock, they lost. On Saturday night the Flames played a lot better against their divisional and provincial rivals, the Edmonton Oilers. They lost again (by a 2-1 score) but they got a hard-fought point via getting to the shootout.
Considering the Flames looked horrible against the Oilers back when they faced them in October and weren’t particularly good on Friday, the single point they captured tonight was a big one.
Just 25 hours after playing really poorly in the first period against New Jersey, the Flames were a lot better to begin tonight’s game. They played a pretty intelligent, structured defensive game against the Oilers’ fast, skilled forward group. Chances were about even either way, as both teams tried to feel each other out. Shots were 8-5 Flames.
The two teams exchanged power plays in the first but the neither scored. The Oilers got a power play in the second – off the second Jyrki Jokipakka defensive zone minor in two periods – and they capitalized. Patrick Maroon attempted to pass from behind the net into the slot. Dennis Wideman performed the Ian White Starfish immediately in front of the net, deflecting Maroon’s pass back to him and disrupting Brian Elliott’s attempt to cover the puck, allowing Maroon to bury the loose puck. The Oilers 1-0 lead lasted all of 26 seconds, as Sean Monahan carried the puck into the Oilers zone on the next shift and buried his own rebound to tie the game. Shots were 8-4 Oilers in the second.
Neither team scored in the third, as it was a game between two teams that didn’t want to commit too much to any particular offensive rush (to avoid getting caught on an odd-man rush). The Flames killed off a late Dougie Hamilton penalty and it was off to overtime. Shots were 13-8 Flames.
Overtime was the Elliott show. The Oilers were all over the Flames and out-shot ’em 6-0. Their goalie held them in, particularly with a pair of great saves in the last minute. Leon Draisaitl and Mark Letestu scored in the shootout to ice this one.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
They weren’t able to generate enough at even strength – both in terms of generating high-octane offensive chances and drawing penalties. They’re really dependent on power plays for their scoring because they typically don’t get great scoring chances five-on-five. Tonight, they just couldn’t do enough to generate.
That said, they deserved a better fate. They were a lot better than they were against New Jersey and they were full marks against a pretty damn good Oilers club.
THE TURNING POINT
Late in the third period, Johnny Gaudreau hit the post on a rush. It was arguably the best chance any Flames player got in the third. He didn’t score and the Flames went to overtime and had their show run by the Oilers.
The two Elliott saves on the Oilers in the waning minutes of overtime were also huge.
It’s gotta be Elliott. He made 26 saves against a pretty game Oilers squad and was really sharp in overtime.
Aside from Jokipakka, nobody was particularly amazing or bad on the Flames. They were all pretty solid
(Percentage stats are even strength. Game score is overall. Stats via Natural Stat Trick.)
THIS AND THAT
Ok. Good one. Video with Craig MacTavish giving Hunter (the Oilers mascot) a tutorial on how to rip out Harvey the Hound’s tongue.
— Kristen Odland (@Kristen_Odland) January 15, 2017
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) January 15, 2017
The Flames (23-20-3) are off tomorrow. They practice on Monday and are back in action against Thomas Drance and the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night at the Saddledome.
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