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”:

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below
  • 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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

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
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

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.

  • Cheeky

    Wow, what a come back boys! Couldn’t watch the game but caught up with the comments during second intermission. Nothing but coiler trolls then, what a difference a period makes. Any comments from you trolls? Any of you? No, didn’t think so…. Good job boys, and even better job Rittich, our new #1…

    • Captain Ron

      No worries mate rest assured I stopped by ON and said hello to douchebagofpucks for ya. Haven’t been there in a really long time but couldn’t resist a little visit over there tonight.

  • Captain Ron

    I love the fact that the Flames schooled the Oilers in the 3rd when the BS was over and it was about playing the game. Impressive to watch them run the show. Frolik and Ryan were very good with Neal just OK in the 3rd. and the 1st line finally came through. Rittich is our new starter till further notice. Been a long time since I was that emotional watching a game!

    • Luter 1

      I think he threw McDavid off his game, he scored but was for most part not dominating. Tkachuk was being effectively pesky but needs some heavyweight backup.

  • iggyrocks

    Turning point for this game was TM moving Lucic to the top line to protect McDavid, from that point on that line did nothing. Lots of Oilers fans mad Tkachuk didn’t fight Kassian. No need to waste his time with a 4th line goon

  • Pete80

    They’re going nuts up north over Tkachuk, but man did those guys take the bait all night. Drai has zero composure and even McDavid even got in on the bad retaliation penalties. I think this team finally has the Oilers out of their heads

  • Chiz

    Big save dave… the net is his. Last year when smith went down, all the pressure was on him. This year is different. Smith is still there. Let him start 40 of the last 60, if not more

    • Harley Hotchkiss’s Ghost

      It’s interesting, when everyone talks about Rittich kind of letting us down last year when he was given the net with Smith out injured, I recently went back and looked at his Save Percentage from January onwards last season and it was still 0.911, which even surprised me. Not to mention Rittich has taken another step this year from even that point, but at his worst so far with us he was a 0.911. To me that means he is a legitimate NHL goalie.

      • Avalain

        I mean, Rittich himself talks about how he tensed up when he was told to be a starter, and how it took him playing for his country to give him his confidence back. I think that he’s got a much better idea of what he needs to do to be successful this time around.

  • Flamesforever

    What a game! LOVE how Lindholm plays he’s an absolute beast. Rittich looks like he’s going to take the reigns and finally give us a quality #1 what a find he was!

  • Hockey4life

    It’s amazing what this team can do when they have a goalie in net who can make timely saves and not deflate the team. Life his emotion too. This kids a gamer.

  • LannyMac

    I am the most negative MF on this site but tonight not a chance. Those boys for the most part played a physical game and stuck together for the most part everyone stood there ground. [email protected] I miss old time hockey. Thx to both teams

    • Luter 1

      Lanny without Rittich breakaway saves were all crying in our beer about getting stomped. They did stick together but man we need a heavyweight, no way your top scorer gets sloughfooted and jumped and your Captain gets blasted and you really have no one to do anything about it. Let’s change the sloughfoot on Nuge and the hit on McDavid and what the outrage would be. Liked that we won , didn’t like they were giving and we were taking for the most part. That Bennett’s a beauty, middle-weight vs heavyweight.

  • BendingCorners

    That was a fun high-energy game, with a great result.
    Not sure why the Flames best players get more shots playing 2 minutes 5 on 5 than they do on the PP, maybe they just try too many fancy things and don’t move around enough? I’m glad BP ignored Sky’s posts and left the top line intact in the 3rd, they scored 3 times.
    Rittich looked good. Valimaki and Anderson did too.
    Looking forward to Tuesday.

    • Off the wall

      Yeah, that was precious. The broken English is charming, “ I don’t Twitter”
      “I eat lots steak”

      I didn’t realize how addicted he was to Coca Cola pop. Too funny.

      But you can all tell how much his teammates love him, just as we do!

    • Phockey

      I haven’t seen that many Slewfoots in a game since Charlestown played Syracuse. Put away your toolbox folks because Kassian is the complete tool. Hi Douche level from the Onion city Dwellers tonight. At least for a little while anyway. Thank fully they laid down and quit.

    • KootenayFlamesFan

      Love that guy!!!! And Bennett too. Takes balls to step up and fight nurse.

      I know I said their lack of finish would lead to a loss. I’ve never been happier to be proved wrong.

      Rittich is the real deal! This is game will be the springboard to an awesome season!!!

  • Sven

    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.”–

    Who is this kid?
    A) Season save percentage 93.5% (4th in the NHL)
    B) Goals against average 1.91 ( 2nd in the NHL)
    C) High danger save percentage 88% (2nd in the NHL)
    D) Goals saved against league average 6.0 ( 7th in the NHL)
    E) Delta/Adjusted Save Percentage 2.97 -the difference between a goalie’ expected save percentage and his actual save percentage-. (2nd in the NHL)

    This Rittich kid – by statistical analysis – would seem to rank in the top four or five of the 62 goaltenders to have seen the ice this season….
    perhaps worth another start sooner than later?

  • Calgarycandle

    I make this comment in all seriousness. Smith is vital to the goaltending situation. With him as backup, Rittich doesn’t have to feel the pressure of being the number 1 as he did when Smith went down last season. Conversely, when Smith does get another start (hopefully in a back-to-back) maybe he will in turn feel less pressure to be the go-to guy and will play with more confidence. Weird, BT may have actually solved Flames’ post-Kipper problems through the very back door.

    Six 3rd period comeback wins now for the Flames. More than all of last season in just 20 games. Was delighted to see GG on the Oilers’ bench. during their last minute time out. That’s where he belongs. Maybe even as head coach when TM hits the dust.


    • FlamesFanOtherCity

      Last season was last season. Rittich has arrived. He may not have won the starter net for the season, but he’s shown that he can win big games or save games that have gotten out of hand. I don’t know if he was calling out the team or trashing Khaira after the breakaway, but I love it. Rittich has th net until Mike shows that he’s back full force. No more Half Measures Mike right now, need some more Big Save Dave.

    • FlushedOut

      Well said candle. Best way to get a competitor like Mike Smith going is to have his net stolen away from him for a while. And if he can’t take it back it means Rittich is becoming our goalie for the future. Win win either way.

  • Topshelf Sniper

    What’s lost in this dramatic game is that Brodie had a monster game shutting down McJesus’ line. He made a few eye opening plays to break up mcdavid’s zone entrance. Plays like the one he dove backwards and swept the puck away from Draisaitl proves that the old Brodie is back. Having a solid Brodano pairing helps so much in matching up against any team.