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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

GDB 79.0 Wrap-up: Milan Lucic from the top rope

If you can’t beat ’em, fight their goaltender!

FINAL SCORE: CALGARY FLAMES 3, EDMONTON OILERS 2

THE RUNDOWN

The lovely folks over at Nation HQ made their annual epic Alberta road trip tonight, leaving me in charge of the game!

Things started off on a high note for Edmonton, when Anton Slepyshev opened up scoring just over two minutes into the first period. In true Mike Smith fashion, the Flames starter went behind the net to play the puck, coughed it up to Zack Kassian, and ended up sprawling just wide of his left post while Slepyshev took advantage of a wide-open net for his sixth of the year:

From there, though, things would head downhill fairly quickly.

In a span of just under nine minutes through the middle of the first period, Cam Talbot would allow goals by Dougie Hamilton, Garnet Hathaway, and Mikael Backlund, immediately going from a one-goal lead to a two-goal deficit with over five minutes still left to go in the period.

Sekera provided a bit of a screen for Hamilton on the first goal, which would be the former Bruins first rounder’s 17th of the year, but Talbot remained off-angle to allow the puck to beat him cleanly high glove-side – and with a nasty short-side goal on a poor power-play turnover for goal number two and poor lateral movement to prevent goal number three, Talbot’s night was done.

From there, Montoya would manage to hold off the Flames through their lethargic, sporadic offensive campaign down the final two and a half periods of play. Despite facing just 13 shots (not always the easiest rhythm to get into when coming in cold), he would turn away all of Calgary’s attempts to record his own partial-game shutout.

The Oilers would only manage to convert on one more shot the rest of the game, though, and Calgary would take home the win in regulation. After Mike Cammalleri’s redirection mid-way through the second period, Smith would lock things down and skate away with his first two-point game since March 13th.

THE NUMBERS

This game was a perfect example of when goaltending lets you down.

Although the game was fairly evenly matched in the first period shot attempt-wise, Edmonton turned on the offensive Jets for the rest of the game.

When Calgary scored their third goal, they were only ahead on shot attempts by 13-10 – and Edmonton would finish the game with 62 shot attempts to Calgary’s 39 (and 36 total shots to Calgary’s 20).

With a .571 save percentage through the first seven shots on goal against, though, Talbot just wasn’t crisp enough to kick things off – and while Calgary has been on the receiving end of that more than a bit lately, this time it burned the Oilers.

THE HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME

As much as I want to give the game highlight to Zack Kassian – in some way, somehow – it has to go to Milan Lucic, who proved that he’s not *entirely* wasting his contract when he went head-to-head to fellow overpaid league veteran Mike Smith after the mercurial goalie lost his head:

Poetry. Absolute poetry.

Lucic wouldn’t record a single shot on goal all night, but this almost, kind of, sort of makes up for it.

FINAL THOUGHTS

  • Coming into this game, Mike Smith hadn’t posted a save percentage above .900 since his 28-save shutout win over Edmonton two weeks back. Maybe he just has the Oilers’ number, but his strong performance on Saturday was enough to give his team every chance to win the game – despite getting peppered with shots down the final stretch. Why he does this to Edmonton, I don’t know, but I dislike him as much as the rest of you do.
  • Connor McDavid didn’t manage to record even a secondary assist on the night, posting the fourth-worst Corsi For percentage on the team at even strength. He had a nasty shot beat Smith only to get stopped by the crossbar, though, and STILL remains the league leader in the Art Ross race even with a scoreless game tonight. He’s not going to get as many Hart Trophy votes as he deserves, and people are going to point to games like this as a reason, but it’s time to keep an eye on Colorado; if Nathan MacKinnon can’t will his way into the postseason with 14 million injuries to his teammates in Denver, there’s zero excuse not to just hand the award right over to Connor.
  • Lucic had himself one hot mess of a night, going full-on bear on the Flames during one of the chippiest third periods the Battle of Alberta has seen in a while (oh, who are we kidding: that was about par for course, wasn’t it?). But in a night where Zack Kassian was involved in both of the team’s goals (and he’s already just three tallies of his own behind Lucic)and put up over three more minutes of ice time than the team’s top-dollar UFA signing, it continues to grow harder and harder to figure out what to do with the once-highly-regarded power forward. In another lost season, I know a lot of people were excited by his passion and physical force in fights against both Mike Smith and Tanner Glass – but when it comes right down to it, that was an ugly game to watch from a guy making $6 million per until 2023.
  • Down in Arizona, Zac Rinaldo had a goal of his own. Apparently, if you’re a loose cannon with an alternate spelling of the name Zach, tonight was your night. Hoo-ah!

  • D

    If Cam Talbot is not able to get his head into the game for a Battle of Alberta, maybe it is time for the Oilers to consider whether he is a long-term solution in net.

  • Clayton

    If the Oilers actually played hockey instead of lets try to set Connor up all night they may have actually won this game. Not that getting Connor the scoring title is a bad plan, but just play hockey and he will get his points! We just lost to a team missing two of its top 6 forwards its entire second pairing D and one of its third line forwards. What a joke.

    • cberg

      Yeah, next to winning the draft lottery and huge draft parties over New Years, pumping players to win meaningless trophies is the best they have to look forward to.

  • ThEdge

    I can help you out with how/why Smith can do that to the Oilers. Same as all the Vezina Backups. No Oilers screen goalies and not one player has the ability to tip shots more then a lucky tip now and then. They stand beside the goalie blocking 1/3 of the net making it even easier for them. How many rebounds have they cashed this year? Maybe get your ass off the wall, head TO the net, not behind it, make life hard for the goalie!

    • Briefly taking a look, Laurent Brossoit has made 10 starts and appeared in 14 games, Montoya has made five starts in EDM and appeared in 8 games. So that’s a rough estimate of around seven relief efforts for the team’s backups.

      Not great, but Philipp Grubauer also has seven relief efforts this year (tandem: Braden Holtby), as does Chad Johnson (Robin Lehner, Buffalo), and Kari Lehtonen (Ben Bishop, Dallas).

      If it helps, though, Aaron Dell and Ryan Miller have both made six relief efforts with Martin Jones and ‘Mr. Vezina dark horse’ John Gibson, and David Rittich alone has made five for Mike Smith in just 21 total games played. So even if some of those are injuries, Talbot is on up there… but not alone in the doghouse.

  • Ted

    Talbot doesn’t deserve a dog house, just a cardboard box to be shipped in! When does this guy wake up! Whiff! … Hey coach he’s done for the season you’ve over played the donut! Have some decency! Not a number #1. That was a Montoya push! Hello!
    Has Sekera and Russell forgotten how to play hockey! They look totally lost our there! Here would you like the puck on a platter! No mention of give aways tonight but as of late it’s something we dominate in! Thanks to the Tweedle brothers and the usual suspects!
    Ya Lucic! To bad you saved it for a meaningless game! Could have used that spunk on most any other night! You too Zach!
    Hey Draisaitl Bechstein called, they want their piano back! BOOM!

  • Connor McFly

    Talbot’s play is beyond feckless. How many times this season have we seen opposition players skate around him and deposit the puck in a wide open net. How many times this season have we seen Talbot play the puck away from his D only to turn it over to the winger sealing off the wall? How many times have we seen him cough up the huge rebound right into the slot onto an opposing players stick. How mant times have seen him drop to his knees in panic-mode only to be sniped into the top-cheese. How many times have we seen the whole team sag after he allows multiple lame-ass goals? I rest my freaking case Your Honour. This dude not only doesn’t rate a pay boost in free agency he doesn’t deserve a contract in my opinion. Whatever his problem is let him tell his story walking.
    ,

  • Odanada

    Defensive end breakdowns. Horrific power play.
    The players looked rough. The coaching looked rough. The goaltending looked rough. The execution looked rough.
    This is pretty much a sh*tshow.
    Painful

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    If Katz has ANY respect for what the Edmonton Oilers stand for, this entire organization will clean house this offseason. I’ve officially had it. Ever since McDavid got 100 points, they’ve checked out. As for me, I’m done. I’ve had it with the joke of a franchise. Until they fix things, I’m done. I’ve put up with 10 years of losing, and I’m not going to endure more. I’m going back to being a Leafs fan.

  • KennyG

    Play Montoya rest of the year or why did we even get him? Another wasted draft pick. I don’t care 4th or 5th whatever it was, it was another poor move by PC. Expect more.

  • camdog

    Given the way Talbot’s been playing I’ve been expecting Montoya to get a start for 2-3 games now. LB – I thought he’d get a start as well. Got to hand it to Todd for being Todd, he really is true to his convictions.

  • Relax everyone, Talbot will be fine after a full summers rest and I’m in early negotiations with the Golden Knights that will allow us to require Griffen Reinhart. It will only cost us our 2nd and 3rd in the upcoming draft.
    Enjoy the last few games of the season everyone!

    • Matt Turner

      I’d offer the first-round pick – unprotected.
      Can’t risk Buffalo or Arizona stealing him.

      And what of Anders Nielsen? Do you think he’s interested in coming back next season?

      Also, I hear Boston is offering Chara a one year deal. Surely you can offer him better.

    • polarcap

      Society is working hard to recognize and eliminating bullying. The NHL slowly is coming around – players like Gaudreau, Barzel, Marner, Gallagher, et al bring excitement to the game. Intimidation and fear used to win games. Not so much any more. With one goal in 43 games I don’t think NHL teams are too concerned. They want to win games