The last time the Calgary Flames saw the Edmonton Oilers, they jumped out to a very quick 3-0 lead in the first period, and never looked back, despite the Oilers' best attempts at evening up the game. This time, things were significantly more even. And tense. And, well, fun as hell.
The Oilers looked to be in control early on in the game, but it was the Flames who had the first powerplay. And the second, for that matter.
In powerplay number one, Paul Byron was chasing the puck behind the Oilers' net when in stepped Mark Fayne. Like, literally. He stepped his significantly bigger frame straight in Byron's path with the puck already being carried out by a teammate, and that was called for interference. While the Flames did a good job of initially keeping the puck in the zone for the first minute, they were too fancy with their passing, and never got a shot on net. Then the Oilers got their act in gear, and started clearing the zone with regularity until the penalty was killed.
The Oilers appeared to be back in control, but the next Flames scoring chance got them a powerplay. Josh Jooris broke the puck out and chipped it up to Curtis Glencross. Glencross returned the puck to Jooris, who got it to a streaking TJ Brodie, only to be denied. The Flames kept up the pressure in that moment, leading to Keith Aulie hooking Joe Colborne at the side of the net.
The Oilers couldn't get ahold of the puck right away, leading to a few extra chances for the Flames before the powerplay actually began. They had a pretty good one when Mark Giordano teed it up for Glencross, but Glencross hit the post, and eventually, the Oilers were able to touch up on the puck.
The second powerplay was similar to the first: some pretty good puck movement in the first minute, but this time, while the Flames only managed one shot on net, they had much better chances, in particular thanks to Johnny Gaudreau and Jiri Hudler. Those two are really, really good together, wow. But one shot was all they would get, as the Oilers once again started clearing the puck with frequency, effectively killing the penalty.
Once the game returned to even strength, things appeared settled down somewhat - at least until Matt Stajan tripped Derek Roy. Jonas Hiller had a fantastic save on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins when the puck bounced up and looked like it was surely going in, but it ended up being for naught.
Nail Yakupov's shot hit David Perron at the side of the net. The puck went behind the net, where new Oiler Matt Fraser picked it up. Spotting a sliver of empty space between Hiller and his post, Fraser banked the puck in through there, putting the Oilers up 1-0 at the end of their powerplay.
Yakupov followed up with two additional excellent shots, including his own rebound, but Hiller stayed with him. The Flames countered when Byron once again sped off down the wing and dished the puck to Kris Russell. Russell was unable to get the puck to the slot, however, as the Oilers intercepted it, preventing a shot.
And then, controversy. Earlier, Aulie had delivered a thunderous hit on David Jones. Back in the lineup and surely ready to make a good impression, Aulie stepped up once again.
The only problem was, it was into Stajan, who had just missed a suicide pass. Stajan was exiting the Flames' zone, head down, looking for the puck. It went right through his feet and Aulie, who's pretty frickin' tall, was already cruising in at Stajan. The end result? Aulie nailed Stajan in the head, and Stajan went down.
Lance Bouma's gloves were off, and he started scrapping with Aulie. Stajan got up and joined them. The refs stepped in. Brandon Bollig came by, too. And ultimately, Aulie was sent down the tunnel pretty quickly, his night over thanks to a rather reactionary game misconduct.
The period ended with the Flames taking the first 55 seconds of their five minute powerplay. It finished nicely, with Sean Monahan centring a pass to Giordano and Glencross getting the rebound, but Ben Scrivens was stellar in stopping both shots. There was another little scrum, but the period was over, the Flames outshooting the Oilers 7-6, but out-corsied 17-15.
The Flames were given the absolute gift of even more powerplay time, for all the good it had done in the first period. All in all, the team had eight shots on net during the five minute major, including a hard Dennis Wideman shot that went fivehole on Scrivens, but wasn't hard enough to actually go in the net. Scrivens saw the puck while it was still in the blue paint and quickly covered it up. He stopped everything on the powerplay, continuing to have himself a great night.
With the powerplay expired, and the Flames still not on the board, Taylor Hall sped right into the Flames' zone. Russell kept him to the outside to prevent a more dangerous scoring chance, and the Oilers continued to lead by one.
And then Colborne hooked Perron, giving the Oilers a two minute powerplay. They were unable to do much with it, however, largely in part thanks to the prowesses that are Brodie and Giordano. When Brodie went down, Giordano sped over to clear the puck with ease, effectively killing the penalty.
Hall sped right back into the Flames' zone, but this time Rafa Diaz was there to cut him off. It stopped the initial try, but couldn't prevent the Oilers from adding to their lead. Hall and Jordan Eberle cycled the puck down low, eventually dishing it off to Leon Draisaitl. Draisaitl dished it to Eberle in the slot, and with Hiller effectively screened by both Wideman and Markus Granlund, the Oilers increased their lead to 2-0.
And then Glencross had to come in and remind us all about Glencross. He and Perron had been scrumming a little bit amongst themselves, but went on with the game. When the whistle went, Glencross decided to jump in and elbow Perron, giving the Oilers another powerplay for no good reason.
Fortunately, the best chance on this powerplay belonged to the Flames, when Jooris and Brodie sped out with the puck. Justin Schultz came back to play the two-on-one, and Jooris was forced to keep the puck, especially after he briefly lost it. He ended up hitting it off the corner of the net, but that was the best scoring chance over those two minutes, as the Flames had a great kill.
Glencross then tried to redeem himself when he was sprung for a break, but Oscar Klefbom cut him off with ease. This was followed up with a Jones and Brodie two-on-one, with Glencross the trailer; but ultimately, no goal on Brodie's shot.
And then the Oilers nearly went up 3-0 with a mass of bodies in front of Hiller's net. The puck bounced off the post and stayed out, but it was a very close one.
Tyler Pitlick had a big hit on Jooris in the neutral zone - so big, he was called for elbowing with just over three minutes remaining in the period.
With approximately eight billion powerplays for the Flames, eventually, something had to work in their favour. And it did! Glencross collected Wideman's pass, and backhanded it to Monahan in front of the Oilers' net. As a gaggle of Oilers converged on Monahan, he slid the puck to a wide open Colborne, and Scrivens had no chance as he went top shelf far side to bring the Flames within one, 2-1.
And then Gaudreau rang the puck off the crossbar immediately after. Dang.
The second ended with some major Oilers pressure as they tried to reestablish their two-goal lead, but the Flames managed to hold them off. Throughout the frame they outshot the Oilers 11-8, and were just out-corsied by them 16-17.
The third kicked off with both teams exchanging chances, courtesies of the ever-dangerous Gaudreau and the ever-dangerous Hall.
And the ever-dangerous Bouma? That quickly became a thing, as he picked up his first goal in 18 games. With some new-look lines in play, Deryk Engelland chipped the puck up to Diaz. Diaz sent it in behind the Oilers' net, and Bouma picked it up. He sent it out front to Byron. Byron's massive shot created a rebound, and while Granlund was tied up, Bouma had no problems evading Schultz and sniping it on Scrivens, tying the game at two.
Brodie and Colborne had some heavy shots themselves from the point to try to take the lead, but Scrivens saw and held them. Glencross, hanging right out in front of the net, nearly added to the lead as well, but despite the goal he'd just allowed, Scrivens was having a night, and stopped the puck.
With the Flames finally on the board, though, they were clearly hungry, and started to take control of the game. Gaudreau, starving for a point, worked well with Brodie to try to score, but the puck ended up going the other way, where Brodie had to cut off Eberle, and Hiller stopped the shot.
The Flames couldn't recover from that particular zone entry, though. Perron chipped the puck to Draisaitl, who spotted a wide open Andrew Ference. In a rare sign of offence, Ference blasted it past Hiller for his second of the year, making it a 3-2 game with the Oilers back in the lead.
The Oilers had an outstanding chance to extend the lead when Hall was sprung into the Flames' zone all alone... but he fell down. So that resulted in nothing. Which was fun.
Especially because it gave the Flames the chance to tie the game right back up, which they did. About two and a half minutes after Ference's goal, the Flames were buzzing in the Oilers' end. This resulted in a Monahan shot right in front of the net. Scrivens had it, but wasn't perfect, what with Colborne screening him and all. The result? A sharp Colborne picking that puck right up and poking it through regardless, Scrivens be damned. Tie game, three all.
The Oilers were desperate to get the lead back. I mean, maintaining it so long, only to have the Flames constantly come back is probably annoying. Eberle absolutely rifled the puck towards the Flames net, but Hiller stood up and grabbed it with force in a hella flashy glove save.
The Flames were then after gifted yet another powerplay, approximately their ninth billion of the game. Hall slashed Giordano and went off for two. Yup, the full two minutes, because while the Flames controlled the puck throughout the powerplay, they only managed one shot on net. They maintained zone time in the offensive zone and had some neat passing and a lot of wide shots, but couldn't generate any truly strong chances on the man advantage.
The real fun with penalties, however, was saved for the end of the game. With Gaudreau dancing around everyone and everything, as he is wont to do and we love him very much for it, Jooris tripped Petry with 59 seconds left in the period. But this is where it got REALLY fun: Petry was called for embellishment.
Four on four time in the dying minute of a tie game. The Oilers were scary, dancing around the Flames' zone in the final minute - Klefbom in particular. The Flames managed to hold them off, though, and that was when the real fun began...
(Third period stats: the Flames outshot the Oilers 8-6, and out-corsied them 30-16. IT'S SO NICE TO BE ON THAT SIDE OF THINGS FOR ONCE!)
Offsetting penalties. In overtime.
THREE ON THREE ACTION. Look at all of that wide open space. Look at all that ice. Didn't you just want to go out and frolic in it? It's beautiful, NHL please give us three on three overtime action.
Part of the reason I loved it was definitely because I'm a Flames fan, not an Oilers one. The Flames boasted, by far, the superior unit.
For the Flames, it was Sean Monahan, Mark Giordano, and TJ Brodie.
For the Oilers, it was Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz, and Andrew Ference.
Now, Monahan vs. Hall would probably be a lot of fun to watch. Giordano and Brodie vs. Schultz and Ference, though? Let's be as nice as we can here: that's a bloodbath.
And a bloodbath it was. The Flames controlled the puck from the beginning, and never relinquished it. At no point did the Oilers look like a threat. Hall is a fantastic hockey player, but there's only so much one guy can do; meanwhile, Monahan, the ever-developing centre with great offensive instincts and increasing defensive ones was backed by the most offensive defence pairing in the entire league, who are pretty frickin' great at defence themselves.
The Flames controlled 100% of the overtime play. Nobody scored in the first minute, and all six parties were absolutely gassed. The long change, in particular, made things even more difficult.
So when the penalties expired, out jumped Jooris to join a team already in control of the puck. Hall was caught in his own zone, unable to go off for a change. Wideman picked up the puck, sent it to Hudler. Hudler dished it to a streaking Jooris. And in Jooris went, on Hall and Scrivens, and took the shot - and in the puck went, right off of Hall, to give the Flames the 4-3 overtime victory.
Happy New Year, from Monahan, Giordano, Brodie, Jooris, and friends.
Two shots on net, two corsi events for the Flames in overtime - and none for the Oilers, bye.
Flame of the game
This is actually a difficult call between two very worthy candidates whose names both start with the letter J. Josh Jooris returned from injury, playing 20:15 in his return, fourth out of all Flames forwards. He took a penalty at the end of the game that gave us a great deal of fun, and then capped it off with the overtime winner. All the while, he was third on the Flames in corsi events for at even strength with 65.52%. Excellent game.
But I'm giving it to Joe Colborne, and here's why: two goals, for one thing. Overtime winners are super exciting, but the Flames aren't in that position without Colborne. He's somewhat maligned, but I like him, and if he posts more efforts like he did tonight, he'll have his place. Colborne spent most of his time playing against the Oilers' top line, and came away with a 47.37% CF: not great, but at a -4.19 relative value, not the worst on the team. He did this against tougher competition than Jooris, and with substantially harder zone starts, at 37.50%, which was towards the lower end for the Flames. He was right behind Jooris in ice time, too, with 19:17 spent on the ice, fifth for all Flames forwards. He's a big body, and tonight, he executed his size to perfection, screening Scrivens and putting his hands to great use to capitalize on it. Also, this:
Another gem from #Flames C Joe Colborne: "They're the Oilers and we hate them. Any time you can take two points from them, it's nice."— Wes Gilbertson (@SUNGilbertson) December 28, 2014
He's from Calgary. He gets it. (Also, the fact that all his goals this year are against the Oilers is awesome.)
- So, uh, Scrivens and his tape. If you missed the Kings/Oilers game last night, it went to shootout. After the first round, Darryl Sutter decided to stall and throw Scrivens off his game by complaining that the tape on the knob of Scrivens' stick, which was orange, is illegal. The shootout was delayed as the refs taped over his stick. The same thing happened tonight, when Bob Hartley delayed the start of the second period with the very same complaint. I don't understand this rule that white tape is necessary and why Scrivens insists on it and why we have to take time to focus on it, but... that was a thing.
- Oiler thoughts: Schultz looked significantly less like a trainwreck than he did a couple of days ago. I mean, he's still not super great, but he was less terrible. I like Klefbom a lot, and the end of the game really cemented why. He could be very, very dangerous one day. And Hall is already pretty fast and has a dangerous shot and is real good at hockey.
- Monahan is just getting better and better. He was thrust into a position he probably ideally wouldn't have taken this early in his career, that being the role of number one centre, but he hasn't looked lost. He had disastrous zone starts tonight, and pulled through. He plays all situations, including his now budding time on the penalty kill. Monahan's 2:03 in that department was second only to Jooris as far as Flames forwards go, and only by about five seconds. He's got the offensive instincts and his defensive game is coming along amazingly. Monahan is developing into a really special player, and we're really lucky to have him.
- Speaking of special players, Gaudreau may have been held off the scoresheet tonight, snapping a four-game point streak, but he remains an absolute treat to watch. The kid has no problem dancing through anyone and everything, and holy crap - his chemistry with Hudler is insane. The two just feed off one another and are a dominant pair. Imagine what they'll do with Monahan or a healthy Mikael Backlund between them. It'll be nuts. It already is.
- Speaking of Gaudreau, here's a note on physicality. In the third, Ference absolutely laid him out at the Oilers' net. Gaudreau stayed down for a second, then popped right back up. Huge hit, and he was totally fine. Back on the bench, he looked determined to get back out there and force the game to go his way. Too small has never been a thing for this guy.
- Actually speaking on physicality: this was a rough and tumble Battle of Alberta, with a combined 43 hits. Thirty of those came from the Flames, with Colborne and Bollig being attributed six hits each, and Bouma, Jones, and Byron picking up four. Outhitting the opponent isn't always the best thing - you're not hitting them if you have the puck - but that can be pretty satisfying. Also shows how physical players come in all forms: Colborne is like a foot taller than Byron, but both were throwing the body.
- Wideman shoots the puck wide a lot.
- But on defencemen and shooting, I can't believe Diaz gets so little ice time. He finally picked up his first point as a Flame, an assist on Bouma's initial game-tying goal. He was constantly shooting the puck, albeit none actually went on goal. It felt to me like he played longer than the 8:26 he actually did. Just, I dunno, I like him. He adds a punch to the bottom pairing that an Engelland - Ladislav Smid combination just isn't capable of. The Flames are already way too top-heavy on defence, so that really does help.
- Speaking of how top-heavy the Flames defence is, both Brodie and Giordano registered four shots on net. Gio actually played the least of the top four - Brodie, Russell, and Wideman all eclipsed 26 minutes, while Gio ended up with 25:33 - but he was pretty key out there.
- The Flames had 13 minutes of powerplay time to work with, which led to some crazy numbers, like Russell and Wideman playing over seven minutes each on the man advantage. Glencross, Hudler, and Gaudreau all played over six. Remember when Gaudreau couldn't even get a sniff of the powerplay at the start of the season? How far we've come. (Monahan was just under the six minute mark. Combine that with his time on the kill, and he spent a ton of time on special teams.)
- And finally:
That's a franchise record eight third period comebacks -- and not yet at the halfway point in the season. Happy New Year, #Flames fans.— Darren Haynes (@DarrenWHaynes) January 1, 2015
... Karri Ramo got to start a game again? Look, I love Hiller. I love him a whole lot! And his new black mask! But I also love Ramo, and I love the tandem between the two. It's not like Hiller was having a ridiculous shutout-spree stretch like Ramo was. I feel there are overall better performances when both goalies get a healthy mix of starts. The first goal against Hiller was pretty lazy on his part. Just shake it up a bit - you have a tandem of two great goalies, use both of them!
... Glencross learned to control his temper? No harm came from it, but there was no need for Glencross' selfish penalty on Perron. Now, he did make up for it with a number of good scoring chances, not to mention a couple of great assists. I still think he should be traded for a ton of reasons, but there's no need to go into those here. My basic point is: come on, man, you're wearing a letter. Don't do things like that.
(I wanna see that letter go to Backlund eventually. Backlund had it at times last season, and he looked great with it.)
Wow. That was fun. Have a great rest of the night, be safe, have a good January 1, 2015! The Flames will be back on Friday, Jan. 2, when the New York Islanders come to town. That particular puck drop will take place at 7 p.m. MT.
In the meantime, celebrate, love the Flames, and come back on here to Matchsticks and Gasoline tomorrow for Mike's stats recap. Happy New Year!