60Mike Smith
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Post-Game: Flames beet Oilers

It’s been said quite a lot over the past few seasons that the Battle of Alberta doesn’t mean what it used to. That’s definitely true in regards to the standings and playoff contention, as Saturday night’s installment featured a pair of teams a combined 30 points out of any playoff spots. But something was in the air in the Saddledome as the Calgary Flames faced the Edmonton Oilers. It wasn’t quite a playoff atmosphere, but we saw more emotion in a Flames contest than we’ve seen in quite some time.

The Flames were spotted a first period lead from some shaky goaltending and then clung on for dear life, skating away with a 3-2 victory over the Oilers.

The Rundown

It was a weird first period. The Flames didn’t get a shot on goal until 6:43, when they were already trailing by a goal. Of course, their first shot ended up being a goal, too. Less than three minutes in Mike Smith went to play the puck behind the net. He passed it right to Zack Kassian, who passed it to Anton Slepyshev in the slot for an easy tap-in and a 1-0 Edmonton lead. But the Flames responded four minutes later. Mikael Backlund pursued a loose puck off a broken play in the Oilers zone, then passed it to Dougie Hamilton as he entered from the neutral zone. Hamilton’s wrister beat Cam Talbot high glove-side to make it 1-1.

The Flames took the lead five minutes after that: with Troy Brouwer in the penalty box, Garnet Hathaway grabbed a loose puck and fired a puck towards the Edmonton net just as he crossed into the Oilers zone. The puck beat Talbot inside the far post to make it 2-1 Flames.

Backlund made it 3-1 later in the period, beating the Edmonton defenders to a loose puck after Talbot kicked a rebound out from a Michael Stone slap shot. That spelled the end of Talbot’s evening.

Shots were 9-7 Oilers, but scoring chances were 7-2 Flames.

The Oilers were much better than the Flames in the second period. Some of it might have been score effects, but Edmonton brought their work-boots into the second period. They out-shot the Flames 12-5 and out-chanced them 11-3. They got a goal after a Flames turnover. Matt Bartkowski coughed up the puck but Smith made a huge save on a Mike Cammalleri shot. But the Flames couldn’t clear the zone and Cammalleri redirected an Andrej Sekera point shot past Smith to cut the lead to 3-2.

Neither team scored in the third period, but it was filled with scrappy play and Oilers pressure. Smith slashed Milan Lucic, triggering a scrum that filled both penalty boxes. Later in the period Tanner Glass dropped the mitts with Lucic and ended up a bit worse for wear. The Flames held the Oilers off with the extra attacker and won this one 3-2. Shots were 15-8 Oilers but scoring chances were 3-3.

Why The Flames Won

The Oilers got some rough goaltending early, but the Flames didn’t get in their own way. When an opportunity to score was handed to them, they took it. And once they got spotted a lead, they were generally pretty solid at holding Edmonton at bay.

When Connor McDavid doesn’t appear on the scoresheet, it’s probably a good evening for your defensive group.

Red Warrior

Let’s go with Backlund, who had the game-winner and held McDavid off the scoresheet.

The Turning Point

Backlund’s goal held up as the eventual game-winner, but it was also a product of some nice pressure and situational awareness by the five Flames on the ice.

The Numbers

(Percentage stats are 5-on-5, data via Corsica.hockey)

Player Corsi
For%
O-Zone
Start%
Game
Score
Shore 60.9 57.1 0.300
Frolik 56.0 50.0 1.335
Gaudreau 53.9 57.1 0.325
Kulak 50.0 0.0 0.175
Backlund 50.0 66.7 1.895
Stone 48.7 0.0 0.625
Foo 47.1 57.1 0.225
Glass 45.5 100 -0.150
Brouwer 45.0 66.7 -0.015
Bartkowski 42.9 66.7 -0.225
Andersson 41.2 66.7 0.075
Giordano 40.9 100 0.400
Hathaway 37.5 100 0.475
Lazar 35.3 100 -0.390
Hamilton 33.3 75.0 0.825
Bennett 18.2 0.0 -0.265
Jankowski 12.5 0.0 -0.145
Ferland 10.0 50.0 -0.325
Smith 1.900
Gillies

This and That

Tonight’s game was the first time since March 13 (against Edmonton) that the Flames scored the first goal. And it was the first time they’ve had a lead in a game since March 19 (against Arizona).

David Rittich made 26 saves in a 4-1 Stockton win over San Antonio. Spokane (Zach Fischer) beat Portland 5-4 in overtime to force Game 6 in their WHL first round series. Regina beat Swift Current (Glenn Gawdin) 7-2 to force a Game 7. Vancouver beat Victoria (Matthew Phillips) 5-3 to take a 3-2 lead in their series.

Quoteable

“I liked him. I thought he was exciting. He had some speed. I thought he competed hard on pucks. He made some plays. He had some muck. I thought he looked real good.” – Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan on Spencer Foo’s NHL debut. Foo played 12:45 and had one shot on goal.

“Oh man, it was a two-on-one. He was back-checking really hard and I kinda came across and he was right in my face. I just, my instinct was not to let him hit the goal post, so I was trying not obviously hurt him or anything, but I was trying to protect him more than anything to not let him go into the net.” – Flames goaltender Mike Smith on the play where Mark Jankowski crashed into the net area in the second period. Jankowski was shaken up, but didn’t miss a shift and even fought Drake Caggiula later in the game.

Up Next

The Flames (36-33-10) are off tomorrow, then prepare for their second-to-last home date of the season on Tuesday when they welcome the Arizona Coyotes to town.

  • Jobu

    Jobu thinks it was Alumni night at the Dome. He came across Lanny, Glencross, and Joel Otto. Man that guy is a giant! Looks like he still could play meaningful minutes.