EDMONTON, AB - It was a tied hockey game going into the locker room after the first period, but it was all Flames from then on as they scored four goals in the second and defeat the Oilers, 8-1 at Rexall Place.
“Boy, I was just looking back looking at the goals,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought everything was going fine and I thought the first period was kind of an average period for both teams and then within that three or four minute span, we made at least one mistake on basically four consecutive shifts it seemed like and every time it ended up in our net and we just could not recover from it. We tried everything and we couldn’t recover.”
Ryan Jones lost his stick but provided assistance to the Oilers power play as best he could. Jones screened goaltender Karri Ramo and Jeff Petry hammered a one-timer in the net. Petry’s goal at 4:34 was the second power play goal by an Oiler defenceman this week and second all season.
After a scary situation in the previous matchup between Edmonton and Calgary on March 1, in which Luke Gazdic knocked out Flames Kevin Westgarth in a fight, the two tough guys would square off in a rematch just 7:34 into the game. This tilt ended very different than the last with the fighters duelling to a draw.
Embracing the energy of the scuffle, Calgary Captain Mark Giordano hammered home a one-timer of his own at 8:29 of the first period to even the score, 1-1. Giordano was set up by Mike Cammalleri and TJ Brodie.
With just under seven minutes remaining in the opening period, Oilers forward Matt Hendricks tried to gain back the momentum and inject some energy into his team. Hendricks threw a big check behind the Calgary net and then nearly re-directed a shot from his spot at the post. Then, Hendricks tried his hand at a wraparound that was stopped by Ramo’s pad.
Taylor Hall followed that sequence up with a hard drive to the net that was denied by Ramo.
The first period finished rather even with the teams tied and both having posted nine shots on goal. However, the tides would turn in the second and the home team would be swept under.
“In the first period, we were fine,” Hall said. “It was just one of those games where we have to be mentally tougher when a couple of bounces don’t go our way. We unraveled a bit. I don’t want to say we’re embarrassing because we’re not embarrassed in here but certainly I think we need to just work a little smarter in some areas. The compete level was there at times tonight but for the most part, they out battled us and that can’t happen any night.”
The Oilers tried to get the puck out of their end but a pass was scooped up by Mikael Backlund and he found Cammalleri backdoor for the quick score on a one-timer. The goal at 4:13 of the second period gave Calgary their first lead of the game, 2-1.
A Mark Fraser slash earned the Flames a penalty shot with 14:40 remaining in the second. Matt Stajan took the shot and went glove-side of Viktor Fasth for the goal and gave the Flames the 3-1 lead. Stajan pointed to the sky after the goal in a honour of his son Emerson Stajan, who died on March 3, following his birth.
“I think that one means a lot,” an emotional Stajan said after the game. “It’s been, obviously, not easy and that one’s for the little guy. It felt good and it gave us some puck luck after too so we’ll move on now but I’ll remember that one forever.”
Moments later, another pass and shoot play earned the Flames an even bigger lead. Cammalleri patiently waited for the puck and Petry went down to the ice to take away a shot. Cammalleri sent a backhand pass to Paul Byron who connected on the one-timer. Brodie earned the second assist on the play as the Flames rolled to a 4-1 lead.
The Flames second period dominance continued at 7:18 as they would score their fourth goal in just over three minutes. Curtis Glencross rifled a shot, tucking it in top shelf over the shoulder of Fasth. Stajan and Giordano earned the assists.
Ben Scrivens replaced Fasth in the Oilers net following the goal.
“Just everything snowballing negatively,” Oilers Captain Andrew Ference said. “First period, we wanted to come out and get a good jump and show some speed, some aggressiveness, especially we’ve had some rest here yesterday where some guys with nicks and bruises got a chance to heal up and come out with a good jump tonight and I think we failed there. We came out of the first in a tie but I think we failed to come out with that spark that we specifically talked about and that extra jump that we’re capable of. The missed assignments and odd-man rushes and just breakdowns, it just snowballed out of control. Whenever we got a response after a tough shift or a goal or what not where it was just a solid shift the next guys out there. That’s a very important part of a game like that where you just need to stop the bleeding, you need a good solid shift and we just never found it the entire time.”
4:50 into the third period, Glencross scored again and this time it was from the slot, pushing the Flames lead to 6-1. Stajan and Jiri Hudler recorded the assists.
The scoring continued for Calgary as Westgarth scored on a perfect tip backdoor just 37 seconds later. Wotherspoon and former Oiler Ladislav Smid recorded the helpers.
Glencross earned the hat trick with 6:41 remaining in the third and final frame as he scored with a top-shelf slapshot on Scrivens. Stajan got the assist and the Flames led 8-1.
“It just went deeper and deeper and I know that was probably the longest last 15 minutes of the game that I’ve ever been involved with,” Eakins said. “I apologize to the fans that were here tonight that had to watch that. It was painful on the bench and I’m sure it was painful in the stands and we hope it’s just a blip on the radar because we’ve been playing such good hockey and rolling pretty well. For that to happen tonight, that hurts us but I know it hurts the great city and our fans as well.”
The Calgary win closed out the season series with the road team winning each Battle of Alberta matchup.