Calgary Flames Post-Game: Oilers douse Flames in Heritage Classic
Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
By Ryan Pike29 days ago
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The Calgary Flames were hoping to use Sunday’s Heritage Classic game against the Edmonton Oilers as a springboard for the rest of their season. That springboard will remain dormant and unused, as the Flames were distinctly the second-best team on the ice on Commonwealth Stadium.
Special teams kept the Flames fairly close, but the Oilers were dominant at five-on-five in a 5-2 Flames loss.
The Oilers opened the scoring a few minutes into the first period. Evander Kane’s initial shot was stopped by Jacob Markstrom, but the rebound was booted out to a pinching Brett Kulak – all by his lonesome – and he put the puck past a sliding Markstrom to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead.
A few minutes later, the Oilers cashed in again. Nikita Zadorov got caught on a bad pinch along the boards in the Oilers zone and the puck was turned over, sending it down to the Flames’ zone with just MacKenzie Weegar defending an odd-man rush. Leon Draisaitl found Zach Hyman with a super pass that Hyman one-touched past Markstrom to make it 2-0 Oilers.
The Flames had a couple two-man advantage power plays in the first period – both of them lengthy five-on-threes – and they cashed in on their second chance at it. After a bit of puck movement, a Weegar point shot was deflected past by Nazem Kadri (who was skating through the net-front area) to cut Edmonton’s lead to 2-1.
But Edmonton answered back just 71 seconds later. The Oilers got the puck into the Flames zone after a turnover in neutral ice by Andrew Mangiapane. Connor McDavid whipped a great pass across the low net-front area to Draisaitl, and he fed it to Evan Bouchard at the point. Bouchard leaned into a shot that beat Markstrom through traffic to make it 3-1 Edmonton.
First period shots were 15-7 Oilers (13-3 Oilers at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 21-4 Oilers (high-dangers were 8-0 Oilers).
The Flames managed to calm things down a little bit in the second period, but they still didn’t generate much at five-on-five.
But the Flames cut further into Edmonton’s lead midway through the period. As the dying seconds of a Vincent Desharnais penalty ticked off the clock, A.J. Greer jumped on a rebound of a Weegar initial rush chance and put it past Stuart Skinner to cut Calgary’s deficit and make it 3-2 Oilers.
Second period shots were 11-8 Oilers (11-6 Oilers at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 12-2 Oilers (high-dangers were 6-1 Oilers).
The Flames made a few attempted presses in the early third period, but a Vincent Desharnais point shot bounced a few times on its way to the and got past Markstrom off a nice bit of battling and cycling by the Oilers, and that made it 4-2 Edmonton.
That was enough for the home side. Evander Kane added an empty-netter to make it a 5-2 Oilers victory in the 2023 edition of the Heritage Classic.
Third period shots were 11-3 Flames (7-2 Flames at five-on-five) and five-on-five scoring chances were 6-3 Flames (high-dangers were 3-1 Oilers).
Why the Flames lost
The Flames had nothing going on at even strength. At five-on-five, they were handily out-worked, out-chanced and out-scored. If not for Jacob Markstrom, a couple productive special teams shifts, and some nice individual efforts from folks like MacKenzie Weegar and Andrew Mangiapane, it could have been a lot uglier.
The team in red has quite a bit of work to do if they want to turn their season around.
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It’s gotta be Markstrom. The Flames were under siege for large chunks of this hockey game. Had a lesser goaltender been in the blue paint, this game could have been out of hand really, really early on.
We’re going to cop out and just say “the first period.” The Oilers were superb early on, and the Flames were chasing, with many of their usual bad habits on full display.
This and that
Sportsnet colour commentator – and three-time Olympic medalist – Meaghan Mikkelson announced her retirement from professional hockey on the radio broadcast during the game.
Greer’s goal in the second period was his first as a member of the Flames.
Of the seven goals the Flames have scored across three Heritage Classic appearances – 2011, 2019 and 2023 – just one was scored at even strength.
So far this season, the Flames have been out-scored 23-11 at five-on-five.
The Flames (2-6-1) are back in action on Wednesday night when they host the Dallas Stars.
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