Hey, Oilers Nation! Emergency Backup Cat here, taking on the Battle of Alberta for our lovely friends on the full-time writing staff to help them out with a prior engagement.
Holy smokes, what a barn burner.
Coming into this game, I was excited to see what both Laurent Brossoit and Mike Smith had to offer me. Brossoit’s record, up to this point, didn’t really look like it was going to stay where it was – at some point, he was going to settle in and get things rolling – while Smith has had some white-hot games, and I was curious if he could maintain that reaching his usual fatigue point in the season.
Boy, did they ever show me!
FINAL SCORE: EDMONTON OILERS 7, CALGARY FLAMES 5 (!!!!!!)
🎤 Flames wish they had Jesse's gooooal… 🎤 https://t.co/9B5xX3FfEp
— Nahreman Issa (@NahremanIssaCTV) December 3, 2017
Edmonton jumped out to an early lead in the first frame, getting two goals by Jesse Puljujarvi midway through the period when he capitalized on some good bounces in front of the net.
His first of the night came on a rebound to the right of Mike Smith just in the crease, while the second – which Mark Giordano can’t be thrilled about – was a double deflection, bouncing off of Giordano’s skate before bouncing off of Puljujarvi’s skate and through Mike Smith’s five-hole.
The Flames would get on the board minutes later, though, when Michael Frolik snagged a short-handed tally.
Matt Benning would cough up the puck along the boards at the Calgary blue line, leaving Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on the backcheck trying to stop a 2-on-1 by Mikael Backlund and Frolik. Nuge would pinch a little too close to Backlund, leaving Frolik all alone to quickly fire one past an off-center Laurent Brossoit’s blocker side.
Edmonton would regain their two-goal lead just minutes later, when Jujhar Khaira would accept a perfect centering feed from Kris Russell to put one past Mike Smith at the 17:44 mark.
It was a chippy first frame, with a combined five penalties in those 20 minutes alone – but despite both teams finishing the period with 16-13 in shots (in favor of Edmonton), neither managed to convert on the man advantage. Only Calgary, with their short-handed tally, would notch a special teams point through that point in the game.
Of course, then the rest of the matchup unfolded. Hold on to your butts, guys. We’ve only discussed four of the TWELVE total goals scored.
Of the three periods, this one was the least eventful on paper, although that didn’t stop Edmonton from ruining Mike Smith’s life.
Kris Russell would negate his perfect helper on the Khaira goal by taking a puck over glass delay of game penalty just three minutes into the second period, putting Calgary on the power-play for their third try of the night.
Instead, luckily, yet another short-handed tally ended up on the board, when Mark Letestu scored an easy breakaway goal on Smith to capitalize on a bad bounce off of Sean Monahan’s skate (seeing a theme?).
Milan Lucic would follow up with an even-strength goal to put Edmonton up 5-1, and it seemed like the team had a safe buffer heading into the third.
IT SEEMED, HMM?
Here’s where things really flew off the rails, for both teams.
Between Calgary and Edmonton, a whopping six goals got scored in the final 20 minutes, including four unanswered tallies from the Flames to blow a 6-1 Edmonton lead.
First, Patrick Maroon managed to score just over a minute into the period, welcoming David Rittich to the game after Lucic’s tally ended Mike Smith’s night early.
Then, things started to get really stupid.
Sam Bennett scored a flukey sharp-angle goal off of Laurent Brossoit’s butt, narrowing the lead to four goals:
Laurent Brossoit with the Butt Goal 2.0, otherwise known as the "Butt Deflection Goal", against the original Butt Goal King himself Mike Smith pic.twitter.com/0GMxrx1pfj
— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) December 3, 2017
Easy enough to maintain, right?
Michael Ferland would then take advantage of traffic on an Edmonton penalty kill to fire one from the top of the circle, beating Brossoit cleanly to narrow the margin yet again.
Then came the play shown above, where Kris Russell blew a tire and left Sam Bennett to fly up the wing alone and fire one top-shelf over Brossoit’s head to bring the game to 6-4.
Oh, then Johnny Gaudreau got in on the action, scoring his own sharp-angle tally from the goal line to almost blow Edmonton’s lead entirely.
By this point, it seemed entirely possible that, with the home crowd behind the Flames comeback, Edmonton could blow the game.
Connor McDavid himself got stopped on what was probably the most terrifying breakaway of David Rittich’s young pro hockey career with just minutes remaining, and Calgary absolutely hammered Brossoit with shots down the back stretch hoping they’d catch him off guard again.
With a final-minute goal from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Milan Lucic, though – which came off of, you guessed it, TJ Brodie via deflection – the Oilers held on to their lead, winning the Battle of Alberta in a wild bloodbath that all three goalies may need a week to recover from.
- I thought Cassie Campbell-Pascall had a really good point at the end of the game, following the own goal by TJ Brodie. She pointed out the parallel between the own goal by Russell that set the internet on fire and this one, pointing out the only real takeaway from both of those goals; sometimes, it just isn’t your night. Against Toronto, it wasn’t Russell’s – against Edmonton tonight, it wasn’t Brodie’s. It happens. It has no bearing whatsoever on the kind of player you are.
- Laurent Brossoit needs to figure out what happened during that final period. I don’t know if he got hurt, if he was dehydrated and off-balance, or if he was being controlled by the voodoo doll Mike Smith hid under the bench before the game – but after looking excellent during the first 40 minutes of play, he lost any semblance of proper post coverage and positioning during that final frame. If the team had lost, it would have been on him. As a goalie, I try to avoid saying that as often as possible, but that was a doozy of a period.
- Kris Russell is going to want yet another goal against back from this game, this time the one that came from the play he blew a tire on to really get the Flames rolling. But the important distinction, of course, is that both this goal and the one against Toronto have practically nothing to do with his actual talent level. We can debate how he did in the game all day; he had a couple excellent shot blocks, and a great pass up to McDavid that led to his third period breakaway, but also failed to clear the zone in a couple of key moments and had to block so many shots because of that. But in case Mark Spector wants to act as if we’re using a blown tire and a brain-melting own goal to justify analytics, let’s be clear: they don’t. Those are Kris Russell’s mulligans – and as Campbell-Pascall pointed out, even the TJ Brodies of the NHL have them.
- On a positive note, awesome to see two goals from Jesse Puljujarvi tonight. He’s still getting there, but I thought he looked really in control on that rebound for the first goal; he didn’t get ahead of himself on the play, and he was exactly where he needed to be to put that one in. Getting goals from Khaira and Letestu was nice, too; there’s that secondary scoring that’s been so lethargic through the month of November.
- Finally, I wanted to make a quick note about Cassie Campbell-Pascall. A league-wide op-ed columnist complained about her getting to call the game, since her husband, Brad Pascall, is Calgary’s assistant GM. I didn’t think it needed saying, but Campbell-Pascall does an excellent job of remaining impartial in Calgary games – and, for that matter, in all the games she calls. She’s an excellent hockey mind, and the tight-knit hockey community means plenty of announcers call games they’re personally linked to in some way. If Ray Ferraro can call games his son is playing, or that the Leafs were playing when his cousin was general manager, then Campbell-Pascall’s presence shouldn’t even be a blip on the radar.
Conclusion? Hockey is silly. Kris Russell needs a hug (just not quite so much money). Laurent Brossoit needs to work on his lateral movement and post coverage. Cause yikes. If he has another outing like that, expect to see Nick Ellis get a legitimate shot at heavier starts until Talbot is healthy – and look at what Edmonton may do to pick up either Calvin Pickard or Garret Sparks if they can.
Source: NHL, Official Game Page, 12/02/2017 – 11:00pm MST