The Calgary Flames were the better team for much of their rookie camp clash with the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night at Rogers Place. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t hold onto their leads and ended up leaving town with a 4-3 loss to the Oilers.
The Flames had a pretty strong first period, carrying roughly 60% of the play in the opening 20 minutes and getting rewarded with some goals.
They went up 1-0 early in the period off a really nice cycling shift by Connor Zary, Jakob Pelletier and Dmitry Zavgorodniy. Zavgorodniy headed off and was replaced by Walker Duehr, who slid into the slot, had his initial shot stopped by Oilers netminder Olivier Rodrigue, then buried his own rebound.
On the very next shift, Jérémie Poirier jumped into the rush on a two-on-one with Duehr. Duehr’s shot glanced off a defender’s shinpad, off Rodrigue’s pad, and right back into the slot for the trailing Ryan Francis. Francis made no mistake, putting the puck in the wide-open net to make it a 2-0 Flames lead.
Rory Kerins took a minor penalty for a face-off violation and the Oilers got on the board on the resulting power play. After some excellent puck movement, Henry Rybinski redirected a slap-pass from Yanni Kaldis past Dustin Wolf to make it 2-1.
The Flames got that one back, though, after the Oilers took a too-many-men penalty. After some nice puck movement quarterbacked by Johannes Kinnvall, Zavgorodniy’s one-timer was stopped by Rodrigue. But Martin Pospisil was parked right in front of the blue paint and jammed in the rebound to make it a 3-1 Flames lead.
The second period was more even, and the Oilers managed to claw back into the game.
With Koletrane Wilson in the box, the Oilers got another nice power play and Rybinski buried another nice feed, this one from Ostap Safin. That cut the lead to 3-2.
Later on, the Oilers tied things up off a weird play. Philip Kemp was skating down the wing towards the bottom of the Flames zone, by the goal line. He went to chuck the puck into the slot and Kinnvall went to block the pass. The puck glanced off Kinnvall’s stick and beat Wolf up high to tie the game at 3-3.
The Oilers took the lead in the early third period. After the initial shot by Xavier Bourgault went wide and bounced off the end-boards, Kemp got the rebound and leaned into it, firing a slapper that beat Wolf high (and quickly) to give the home side a 4-3 advantage.
Why the Flames lost
Well, they had the lead because of a nice forecheck and execution with the puck.
They lost the lead because they took penalties and their penalty killing just wasn’t quite up to snuff. They didn’t get much puck luck, but the main culprit was a PK that didn’t bail them out enough.
Let’s go with Zary, who was noticeable basically every time he was on the ice.
Via our pal Pat Steinberg:
Pospisil – Zary – Zavgorodniy
Pelletier – Francis – Duehr
Pettersen – Kerins – Ciona
Huckins – King – Perepeluk
Solovyov – Kinnvall
Poirier – Kuznetsov
Whynot – Poolman
Not dressed for the Flames were G Connor Ungar, D Greg Moro, D Cole Jordan, F Mark Simpson and F Ilya Nikolaev.
Who looked good?
Players that were consistently noticeable for positive reasons included Pospisil, Zary, Zavgorodniy, Pelletier, Duehr, Kinnvall, Poirier, Emilio Pettersen and Wolf. Wolf, for his part, didn’t really have a chance on any of the goals that got past him.
These two teams will match up again on Monday evening in Calgary. The game is closed to the public but will be broadcast by the Flames site and Sportsnet 960 The Fan. Puck drop is just after 6 p.m.