Stay weird, Battle of Alberta.
In a much more reasonable but still incredibly entertaining contest, the Edmonton Oilers mounted – and this time completed – a comeback, evening their second-round series in one game apiece with a 5-3 victory over the Calgary Flames in Game 2.
Zach Hyman scored the go-ahead goal near the halfway point of the third period on a shorthanded run after the Oilers fell into multi-goal deficits twice in the game. Leon Draisaitl notched a game-high three points with an insurance scorer to go along with two assists, while Connor McDavid added to his highlight reel – and playoff-leading point total – with another sublime goal and a fantastic setup in victory.
Mike Smith bounced back from an abysmal performance in Game 1 – and a slow start in Game 2 – making 37 saves for the win.
As much as it was about superstar play, it was also about determination for Edmonton – who suffered their fair share of adversity in the game.
The first example of which Smith conceded two goals in just over six minutes to start after being called off for allowing three goals in eight minutes in Game 1.
It wasn’t a competitive slump from a goalie standpoint, as the Oilers failed to do him a favor defensively in a shaky series of first quarters, but it seemed like the same story was being written when an uncontested shot from Erik Gudbranson slipped under Smith’s arm. for Nick Ritchie to hit home to double Calgary’s lead.
Edmonton found their bearings before the end of the first period, shooting less than one when McDavid headed a one-handed pass into Duncan Keith’s path to crush Jacob Markstrom on a cycle from Edmonton.
But just as the Oilers were starting to turn things around, they were knocked down by a quick whistle from the referee team.
It looked like Hyman had tied the game, or at least created the scenario the Oilers would do it for, running down the wing and causing a scramble up front. But while it looked like the puck had crossed the goal line twice, officials ruled they were blowing the play. The Oilers seemed sure he had crossed the first time, and before that the whistle did not sound, but the goal they were celebrating was disallowed on the ice by a simultaneous whistle, then again after a curiously quick review, seeing them anyway until intermission. .
The referee interference would return, but first there was another moment of karmic fortune – this time in favor of the Flames.
After Darnell Nurse snapped his stick on Tyler Toffoli’s shoulder with a crosscheck, the Flames took advantage of Edmonton’s No. 1 defenseman being unarmed to their advantage on a power play to start the second period. Working the puck on the side Nurse was rushing to cover, Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm combined to transfer the puck on the weak side for Toffoli to hammer home.
Edmonton had two immediate responses after Toffoli restored the Flames’ two-goal lead, but only one would count.
Misfortune continued momentarily for Edmonton when McDavid lit the burners to beat Noah Hanifin in net. McDavid was stopped when he reached the crease, but the puck popped out for Draisaitl to sink into the net. However, noticing that McDavid’s skate had helped pull Markstrom out of position, Flames coach Darryl Sutter challenged the goal, quickly dropping the Oilers to 0-2 on goal criticism in the game.
As if the disallowed goal hadn’t happened in a seemingly turnaround moment, McDavid immediately fired back after the challenge, scoring one of the playoff goals so far.
Picking up a loose puck in the offensive zone at four aside, he fended off Nikita Zadorov’s miss and again worked a two-man game with Keith to put himself in a position to leave no doubt against Markstrom.
Edmonton was still short despite two goals on the board and two more called up. While spending the majority of the rest of the second period on the power play, the Oilers finally broke through when the second unit, and more specifically Evan Bouchard, scored with a four-minute advantage after Kailer Yamamoto drew a very sticky middle finger on Michael. Calculation.
Deadlocked in the third period, it was a Flames power play that eventually gave Edmonton the breakthrough.
After a questionable penalty to Warren Foegele midway through the third period, Hyman provided the Oilers with their first lead of the series — and the Flames more reward — with a brilliant individual shorthanded effort.
Draisaitl found the same kind of space and finished, scoring on a breakaway from his side to kill much of the plot late just over two minutes after Hyman’s goal.
Calgary was denied one on a quick whistle as he pressed in the final moments, tying the Oilers on goals prevented by interference from officials.
Bringing the series home to one game apiece, the Oilers managed to score 11 goals in two games at the Scotiabank Saddledome and, perhaps more importantly, rocked the Flames into a brand of hockey that favors them. The games have strayed from the norm and helped create these unusual conditions, but it’s clear the Oilers have a very favorable matchup against the Flames with the injured Chris Tanev, which can be exploited more at home.
And when those matchups can’t come together organically, Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft can rely on his strategy for Game 2, which was to drain the tank of his best forwards.
McDavid, Draisaitl, Hyman and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each logged over 21 minutes in the game, while the Oilers’ bottom five forwards by total ice were reduced to nine or fewer.
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