If Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Wild was one folks were liable to skip, Saturday’s game between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers was one everyone had circled on their calendars. Well, this one lived up to the hype. The Flames and Oilers went toe to toe for three gripping periods, with the Flames skating away with a 4-3 home victory.

The Rundown

The Flames opened the scoring four minutes into the opening period off a nice transition play started in the Flames end by Matthew Tkachuk. Tkachuk, Andrew Mangiapane and Elias Lindholm rushed off the ice. The initial shot was stopped by Mikko Koskinen, but Lindholm spun and fired a low shot through traffic that beat Koskinen to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

63 seconds later, the Oilers evened things up. The Flames got caught up ice after a scoring chance that didn’t pan out. The Oilers came up the ice and Kailer Yamamoto set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for a gorgeous snipe that beat Cam Talbot top corner (far corner) to make it 1-1. (It was a great shot, pretty similar to the Mats Zuccarello snipe that beat Talbot against the Wild.)

The Oilers took the lead midway through the period on a play that featured a bit of a gaffe by Noah Hanifin and a stupendous finish by Connor McDavid. Hanifin raced to get a loose puck just outside the offensive blueline but couldn’t grab it. Instead, McDavid blew past him (with the puck) with Travis Hamonic in pursuit. McDavid cut to the left and chipped the puck to his right, over top of Talbot, to make it 2-1 Edmonton.

The Flames tied things up with 41 seconds remaining in the opening period off the rush. Sean Monahan dished to Johnny Gaudreau and then headed to the net. Gaudreau unleashed a wrist shot that eluded all the bodies in front of the net – including the goalie’s – to tie things up at 2-2.

Shots were 12-11 Flames – at one point they were 8-2 Flames – and scoring chances 13-8 Flames in the opening period.

The Oilers got a gift early in the second period. Gaudreau blew a tire and gave up the puck to Yamamoto in the offensive zone. He fed Nugent-Hopkins and his shot shot glanced off Gaudreau’s skate (he scrambled to his feet and got back into position) and trickled between Talbot’s legs to make it 3-2 Oilers.

The Flames tied things up a little bit late off a similarly weird goal. The Oilers coughed up the puck in their own end. Derek Ryan grabbed it amongst some defensive confusion – Ethan Bear and Darnell Nurse were trying to give the puck to their goalie – and that allowed Dillon Dube a chance to jam the puck into the net to tie the game up at 3-3.

Things got crazy late in the period, as Tkachuk slid in behind the Flames net and crashed into Zack Kassian with an unorthodox hip check that popped Kassian’s helmet off. That led to Kassian trying to fight Tkachuk – unsuccessfully, shades of their November 2018 skirmish – and led to Kassian getting a double minor for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct.

Shots were 11-6 Flames and scoring chances 10-8 Flames in the second period.

The Flames cashed in on the Kassian minors early in the third period. With Tkachuk parked in front of Koskinen, allowing Lindholm to pick the far side of the net to give the Flames a power play goal and a 4-3 lead.

The home side held on for the victory. Shots were 15-10 Oilers and chances 9-5 Oilers.

Why the Flames Won

They were at even strength. They stayed out of the penalty box for the most part. They didn’t let the game get away from them when Edmonton got momentum. It was an imperfect win, but there are a lot of positives to build on.

Red Warrior

Lindholm scored a pair of goals, but Calgary’s curly-haired antagonist Tkachuk has to get the honours here.

The Turning Point

Kassian does not like Tkachuk. He’s made that abundantly clear. But he lost his composure in the second period and gave the Flames a chance to make it a costly mistake. It was.

The Flames also killed off a third period penalty clinging to a one goal lead, which was a nice boost for their group.

The Numbers

Data via Natural Stat Trick. Percentage stats are 5v5.

Mangiapane 69.2 33.3 1.575
Giordano 69.2 57.1 1.850
Tkachuk 66.7 28.6 1.525
Brodie 66.7 57.1 1.050
Andersson 63.0 88.9 0.400
Kylington 61.5 88.9 0.000
Gaudreau 60.0 72.7 1.950
Monahan 59.5 72.7 1.050
Lindholm 59.3 28.6 2.185
Backlund 55.9 72.7 0.200
Rieder 54.6 100 0.285
Ryan 52.6 37.5 0.880
Dube 52.6 37.5 0.950
Lucic 52.4 37.5 0.040
Bennett 52.0 100 0.260
Rinaldo 43.5 75.0 -0.150
Hanifin 42.1 30.8 0.425
Hamonic 42.1 30.8 0.050
Talbot 0.650

This and That

Up Next

The Flames (25-17-5) are headed back on the road to finish off their pre All-Star Break schedule. Their next stop is scenic Montreal, where they’ll face the Canadiens on Monday evening.

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