92Battle of Alberta
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports

Post-Game: Flames beat Oilers in a true battle

The Battle of Alberta has been criticized for being a rather tepid, emotionless affair in recent years. Well, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers put together a game full of emotion on Saturday night. The Flames struck three times in the third period to beat the Oilers by a 4-2 score.

The Rundown

If you’re the type of person who’ve complained about a lack of bad blood in the Battle of Alberta, the first period was tailor-made for you. Among the “highlights”:

  • Sam Bennett walloped Darnell Nurse with a clean hit in front of the Oilers bench.
  • Leon Draisaitl hit Matthew Tkachuk in a manner that resulted in an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for Draisaitl.
  • Nurse and Bennett fought behind the Oilers net during a Flames power play.
  • Connor McDavid responded to a Mikael Backlund body-check by jumping on his back, resulting in a scrum.
  • Zack Kassian invited Tkachuk to fight. Tkachuk declined and Kassian jumped him, resulting in the Oilers forward taking 16 minutes in penalties – a triple-minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.

Alex Chiasson scored the period’s lone goal during a Flames power play, grabbing a loose puck that eluded Mark Giordano at the point and cutting across the slot to make David Rittich open his legs for a five-hole goal.

The locals looked a bit jumpy and didn’t have great puck management to open this game. Shots were 9-9 and scoring chances were 7-6 Flames.

The second period was also rather disjointed, with both teams fighting the puck a bit. A Mikael Backlund double-minor wiped out the remaining power play time for the Flames and gave the Oilers an advantage. The Flames whiffed on a scoring chance and the loose puck sprung Draisaitl and Connor McDavid on a two-on-one against Travis Hamonic. Draisaitl fed McDavid for a one-timer that made it 2-0 Edmonton.

The Flames finally got their legs under them midway through the period. After a few good shifts the fourth line drew a late power play. Rittich stopped Jujhar Khaira on a breakaway and the Flames carried it back in Edmonton’s zone, where Derek Ryan back-handed a rebound in off a goal-mouth scramble to make it a 2-1 deficit.

Shots were 12-10 Oilers and chances were 2-2.

The Flames made a push to open the third period. Eventually they broke through, with Sean Monahan jumping on a rebound off a Travis Hamonic point shot and burying it into a gaping net to tie the game at 2-2.

They took the lead midway through the third off a simple play executed well. Monahan fed the puck to Noah Hanifin at the point. Hanifin’s point shot was stopped by Mikko Koskinen, but Elias Lindholm poked the rebound past him to make it 3-2 Flames.

The Flames controlled play for much of the rest of the period, aside from a couple Oilers rushes. Lindholm added an empty-netter to make it a 4-2 final for the Flames. Shots were 18-5 Flames and chances were 12-4 Flames in the final 20 minutes.

Why the Flames Won

Whether it was the emotion heading into the game, or the sheer number of penalties taken in the first half of the game, or even some rough ice (the puck was bouncing on both teams for much of the game), the Flames seemed to have a hard time finding a rhythm early in the game. Their puck management was wonky and they seemed to have a hard time executing.

But the Flames have shown themselves to be a fairly resilient bunch this season, and they (a) simplified their game and (b) stayed out of the penalty box in the third period. They’ve been a group that’s been pretty effective when they play a simple, structured game and roll their lines. They did that in the final 20 minutes and were rewarded.

Red Warrior

Rittich was very solid throughout this game. The two goals he gave up were a weird short-handed breakout and a two-on-one with McDavid shooting on him.

He made several strong saves to keep the Flames in this one when it was 2-0. Without these big stops, this thing could’ve been out of hard fairly early.

Worth noting: the Flames scored all of their goals after Rittich’s “What the hell, guys?” gesture after Khaira’s breakaway.

The Turning Point

Lindholm’s go-ahead goal was a definitely turning point, but the entire third period saw the Flames take control and make a strong push. Monahan’s tying goal started to push things towards the home side, but the Lindholm goal booted that door completely open.

The Numbers

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

Player Corsi
For%
OZone
Start%
Game
Score
Gaudreau 86.4 70.0 1.475
Monahan 86.4 70.0 2.680
Lindholm 79.2 63.6 3.090
Ryan 75.0 44.4 1.705
Hamonic 73.3 76.9 3.025
Frolik 68.2 54.6 0.865
Hanifin 66.7 62.5 2.625
Valimaki 61.1 87.5 0.325
Bennett 57.1 53.9 0.905
Brodie 57.1 38.9 0.625
Neal 56.5 70.0 0.900
Andersson 54.6 66.7 -0.050
Giordano 53.6 35.3 0.350
Hathaway 50.0 37.5 0.125
Tkachuk 50.0 50.0 0.725
Backlund 50.0 56.3 -0.215
Jankowski 30.8 57.1 -0.240
Dube 25.0 57.1 -0.300
Rittich 0.900
Smith

This and That

This was the fifth game that the Flames have played in their retro jerseys this season. They’re 4-1-0.

The Flames have scored 32 goals in the third period this season, leading the entire NHL in that category.

Up Next

The Flames (11-8-1) practice tomorrow and then get ready to host the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night at the Saddledome.