The Battle of Alberta shifted to Edmonton on Sunday night, with the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers clashing in Game 3 of their series. The Oilers were excellent and the Flames much less so in a 4-1 Edmonton win over Calgary.
Here are five takeaways from Game 3.

More five-on-five time, but not a lot

The Flames are a team that’s generally at their best at full strength, when they can use all their players, get everybody involved in the game, and play their full system. In Game 2, the Flames and Oilers played just 36:54 at five-on-five (according to Natural Stat Trick) and the Flames just weren’t themselves.
Well, Game 3 featured slightly more five-on-five: 40:55. But the game was still fairly penalty-filled: according to Scouting the Refs, the two officials had averaged 8.3 power plays doled out in playoff games they had worked together. Calgary and Edmonton combined for nine man advantanges.

A fairly even possession game (but Edmonton dominated early)

When the two teams could stay out of the penalty box, despite Edmonton’s home ice advantage the game was fairly even possession-wise. And yes, this does include a third period where the Oilers were nursing a four goal lead and seemingly content just to run the clock and hang out.
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The Flames had slight edges in Corsi and scoring chances for, while the Oilers had slight leads in Fenwick, shots, expected goals and high-danger chances for. But again, remember score effects: when the game was up for grabs, the Oilers ran Calgary’s show. Then they got four goals and were content to let the Flames buzz around for the second half of the game.

Mistakes ahoy

Going into a loud enemy barn in a tied series and playing a pretty even game would normally be seen as a victory of sorts. Heck, the Flames even weathered the storm in the opening period. What’s not to like?
Well, the Flames made a ton of mistakes and gave up four goals. Four rush goals. Four rush goals with Edmonton’s top guns on the ice. Four rush goals with Edmonton’s top guns on the ice that were allowed because the Flames made crucial mistakes in their defensive coverage.
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Zach Hyman’s goal was scored because the Flames defenders backed into their own zone rather than challenging the puck carrier(s), giving Edmonton time to pass. And then three goals were scored because of odd-man rushes that were caused by Calgary turnovers in the offensive end.
Giving Connor McDavid’s line odd-man rushes is like playing with fire: you’re gonna get burned.

Jacob Markstrom was really good

If we’re being sarcastic about it, Markstrom allowed four goals after allowing six in Game 1 and five in Game 2, so that’s progress. (Expect him to give up three goals in Game 4 to keep the pattern going.)
If we’re being serious about, Markstrom got pulled after two periods but he was the only reason the game was even close after the first period. The Flames seemed completely shell-shocked and Markstrom saved their asses. And he was rewarded with his team giving up even better and tougher scoring chances in the second period.
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Markstrom was the goalie of record here and took the L, but none of this was on him.

Un-special teams

The Flames had four power plays in this game.
  • In the first period, with the game tied 0-0. The Flames had three missed shots and then a blocked shot, and the first shot on goal on this advantage was for Edmonton. (Calgary ended up with one shot.)
  • In the second period, trailing 3-0. The Flames had one shot on goal, along with two blocked shots and a missed shot.
  • Early in the third period, trailing 4-0. The Flames had three shots on goal and two missed shots.
  • Late in the third period, trailing 4-1. The Flames had two shots on goal and a blocked shot.
Imagine if the Flames could’ve turned either of those first two power plays into something more productive. The second power play was better than the first, but Edmonton was up by three goals and the urgency was a bit diminished for their penalty kill.
So far in this series, the power play hasn’t been a significant difference-maker for the Flames. (Granted, Edmonton’s power play hasn’t been either, but the Flames were in a situation where they needed something to give them a boost and it didn’t materialize.)
Game 4 is Tuesday night in Edmonton.

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