It was like two teams were transported back some 31 years and a Smyth Division matchup between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers took place on Wednesday night. Game 1 of the second-round series was a wild one, with the two clubs potting a combined total of 15 goals. Calgary took it to the Oilers early, scoring twice in 51 seconds, moved out to a 5-1 lead, then let the Oilers come storming back to tie the game in the third. A couple more, plus an empty-netter to finish things off sealed it for Calgary who has an early series lead.
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) May 19, 2022
While a wildly entertaining and high-scoring affair, neither coach is going to be happy with the way this game went down. The Oilers looked clearly out of sorts to start the game, the emotion of the Battle of Alberta and the stakes as high as they were. They appeared overwhelmed and lost, giving the Flames wide-open looks. It didn’t help that Mike Smith was not sharp, letting in three goals on 10 shots before getting the hook in the first period.
At the other end, Jacob Markstrom was not his typical rock-solid self. When the Oilers finally started putting shots on net, Markstrom was letting in soft ones, three of which were similar goals over this glove hand and a few in short succession to let the Oilers back in the game towards the end of the second period.
All the while, the game was about as chippy as most fans would have expected. Unfortunately for the Oilers, their power play was horrid, never really getting set up and an aggressive penalty kill by the Flames stopped the Oilers’ most potent weapon dead in its tracks.
The bright spot for both teams was the stars. The Flames’ top line of Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm, and Matthew Tkachuk looked nearly unstoppable, with Tkachuk getting a hat trick. On the other side, Connor McDavid had a four-point night, scoring once and adding three assists. Leon Draisaitl looked like he was laboring early, but also seemed to catch a second wind as the Oilers crept up and made a game of it.
Perhaps the biggest concern was the shaky goaltending. None of the netminders looked solid and that has to be a concern for both teams. For the Oilers, they’ll probably run it back with Smith to start Game 2 and let him prove the first period of Game 1 was a fluke. For the Flames, their hope is that Markstrom’s poor showing was just a blip on the radar.
Questions For Game 2
The game ended with a lot of scrapping and chirping, with Evander Kane, Zack Kassian Milan Lucic, Josh Archibald, and Mikael Backlund doing most of the talking. That should make for an interesting opening to Friday’s game, one the Oilers have to show up for early. Neither team will want to play that no-defense, run-and-gun style, even though both teams can. And, since the emotions of Game 1 clearly didn’t benefit the Oilers, can they find a way to come out with a bang for Game 2, but not dig an early hole again?
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