Calgary Flames Post-Game: Close but no cigar, as Flames lose a tight Battle of Alberta

Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
5 months ago
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The Calgary Flames hosted the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night at the Saddledome. While the game wasn’t exactly high scoring, it was high intensity, featuring a lot of checking, scrums and general grumpiness between both clubs.
The Oilers were just a little bit better than the team in red, taking advantage of a fortuitous bounce early in the third period to grab a lead and then using some stout defensive play to hold on for a 3-1 victory.

The rundown

Friends, the home side wasn’t all that strong in the first period. They had the puck a bit, sure, but their decision-making could have used some improvement.
On the other hand, the Oilers made all sorts of good plays with the puck – especially in the neutral and offensive zones – and the Flames were held in during the first period by some superb play by netminder Dan Vladar.
Midway through the period, the Oilers broke the deadlock. Off a zone entry, Warren Foegele made a nice pass to send Ryan McLeod in alone against Vladar. McLeod went high, beating Vladar glove-side to give the Oilers a 1-0 edge. Replays showed the zone entry was borderline in terms of being on or off-side, but the Flames opted not to challenge the goal.
First period shots were 13-9 Oilers (all five-on-five) and, via Natural Stat Trick, five-on-five scoring chances were 12-6 Oilers (high-danger chances were 7-3 Oilers).
Early in the second period, the Flames answered back. Edmonton had the puck in the Flames’ zone, but MacKenzie Weegar yoinked a puck out of mid-air and jumped into the rush, creating a three-on-one play. Blake Coleman fed the puck to Weegar in the slot and he chipped the puck past Stuart Skinner to even up the score at 1-1.
The Flames sustained some pressure in the second, really buttoning up their two-way game and enabling some counter-punch chances.
Second period shots were 10-9 Flames (9-5 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 7-4 Oilers (high-dangers were 2-2).
The Oilers retook the lead early in the third period on a very weird play with a couple tough bounces. Sam Gagner was being guarded by Rasmus Andersson and attempted to throw the puck to the front of the net for a teammate. The puck clipped Andersson’s stick, knuckleballed, and bounced off the back of Vladar’s glove and into the Calgary net. That gave the Oilers a 2-1 lead.
The Flames pressed as the period went along, but the Oilers did a very fine job keeping them to the outside, disrupting their cycle plays, and generally doing what they could to avoid getting scored on. The Flames pulled Vladar for the extra attacker late, but Zach Hyman scored an empty-netter on a wrap-around to give the Oilers a 3-1 cushion, which held up.
Third period shots were 12-8 Oilers (11-5 Oilers at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 12-4 Flames (high-dangers were 3-1 Flames).

Why the Flames lost

The Flames were not good in the first period. Well, Vladar was, but the rest of the team was a step behind. They woke up in the second period and managed to go toe-to-toe with the Oilers in terms of positioning, structure and physicality. The Oilers were just a little bit better than the Flames in the final 40 minutes and based on the number and quality of chances they generated, they probably deserved the victory.
But after an opening 20 that looked like the Flames were trying to hold on for dear life, the red team should be commended for getting their act together and making a game of it.
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Red Warrior

This game is well out of reach after the first period without Vladar in net.

Turning point

Let’s point out a pair of power plays.
Late in the second period, with the game tied 1-1, the Flames managed to kill off an Oilers man advantage and head to the dressing rooms still tied.
Midway through the third period, with the Oilers up 2-1, the Flames had a power play but failed to utilize it well enough to tie the game up. In a game that was very tight-checking after the opening period, the Flames probably weren’t going to get a better chance at drawing back even.

This and that

Adam Klapka made his NHL debut, playing on the fourth line with A.J. Greer and Adam Ruzicka. Matt Coronato returned to the NHL, playing on the second line with Connor Zary and Nazem Kadri. (His last appearance was as a flu fill-in back on Dec.9. Dennis Gilbert returned to the lineup after missing the last seven games working through the concussion protocol after being injured late against Nashville on Nov. 4.
The Flames wore their light Heritage Classic jerseys for this game, so the Oilers wore their dark Heritage Classic jerseys to match.

Up next

The Flames (21-20-5) are back in action on Tuesday evening when they host the St. Louis Blues.

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