Monday night’s edition of the Battle of Alberta was, as they say, a gooder. There were hits. There were saves. There were goals. And the Calgary Flames continued their stretch of strong play under new/old head coach Darryl Sutter, out-scoring the Oilers 4-3 in a back-and-forth game to pick up a big win in the (Scotia NHL) North Division standings.
The first 20 minutes were tight-checking and low scoring. Neither team got great offensive looks. Shots were 5-4 Flames and scoring chances 5-4 Oilers in the first period.
The second 20 minutes were more wide-open, for better and worse. The Flames opened the scoring a few minutes in off a nice sequence from Elias Lindholm and Dillon Dube. Lindholm stripped the puck from an Oilers puck carrier in the neutral zone, then Dube collected the puck, drove the net and beat Smith to make it 1-0 Flames.
A little bit later, the lead doubled off a nice play by Oliver Kylington. He jumped into the rush, carried the puck deep into the Oilers zone, then cut towards the net. His pass wooshed past Dube, but Lindholm fired it past Smith to give Calgary a 2-0 lead.
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 16, 2021
But 46 seconds later, Edmonton got one back. Tyler Ennis’ initial chance was stopped by Jacob Markstrom, but Adam Larsson alertly took advantage of some defensive confusion and jammed in the rebound to cut the lead to 2-1 Flames.
But the Flames got one back a little later. Mike Smith got caught out of the net playing the puck by Milan Lucic. Lucic stole the puck and passed to a streaking Andrew Mangiapane for a tap-in to extend the Flames’ lead to 3-1.
But the Oilers got a late one off the rush, as Devin Shore made a really nice pass that fund Josh Archibald all alone in front of Markstrom for a quick redirect to cut the lead to 3-2 Flames.
Shots were 13-13 and scoring chances 13-8 Flames in the second period.
The Oilers tied things up early in the third period, taking advantage of some loose defensive play and allowing a lane for a gorgeous Leon Draisiatl shot. His laser beam, set up by some guy named Connor McDavid, beat Markstrom short-side just over his shoulder, to tie the game a 3-3.
But the Flames got that one back 67 seconds later. They entered the zone and Noah Hanifin, joining the rush as the trailer, called for a pass from Mangiapane. He dished to the defender and Hanifin beat Smith to reinstate the Flames’ lead, this time at 4-3.
Shots were 14-9 Oilers and scoring chances 7-3 Oilers in the third period.
Why the Flames won
They were a bit looser defensively than their coach probably would prefer, but the Flames weren’t sloppy and played smart, structured hockey for most of the game. And they never trailed in this game, responding quickly when Edmonton eventually tied things up.
We’ve done this a lot, but we’re going with Mangiapane. He had a goal and a key assist and was generally noticeable and very good.
But several other Flames had solid games, too.
The turning point
67 seconds after giving up the tying goal, the Flames managed to get the lead back. There wasn’t much time for hand-wringing or doubts to creep in, as Hanifin got them back into the black right away.
Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.
This and that
The Flames are now 12-0-0 when leading after two periods and 10-2-2 when scoring first.
Kylington got sandwiched by two Oilers in front of the Flames bench in the first period, with Jujhar Khaira’s elbow colliding with his head. Kylington left for evaluation and returned. Khaira fought Brett Ritchie on his next shift and didn’t fare well, getting clobbered with a couple right hands and needing assistance to wobble of the ice. We usually share clips of fights, but we’ll decline to do so here because of the obvious injury to a good player in Khaira.
The Flames (14-12-3) are back in action on Wednesday night for another Battle of Alberta against the Oilers.