On a Sunday night where hockey fans nationwide got to listen to the legendary Bob Cole, the Edmonton Oilers shutout the Calgary Flames 1-0.
Almost a month after the Flames beat the Oilers 4-2 in what was a physical affair accentuated by Matthew Tkachuk’s now infamous “turtle” against Zack Kassian, the fieriness seemed to die down beyond a first period fight between Milan Lucic and Anthony Peluso.
The Oilers worked hard and took advantage of the Mikael Backlund and Mark Giordano-less Flames limiting their opportunities to get themselves into the game.
While that is in due part to them having played Saturday night toppling the Nashville Predators 5-2, Edmonton played a tight 60-minutes.
The win gives Ken Hitchcock his seventh-win in only ten games behind the Oilers bench.
This game, however, could’ve been a lot different had the Oilers been able to capitalize on any of the five power-play opportunities the Flames handed to them.
A 1-0 shutout could’ve easily been a three-goal affair for the Oilers.
It’s the tip of the iceberg on what has become a problem for the Oilers. In the month of December, the Oilers have yet to score on any of their 15 power-play opportunities.
The trend is one I’m sure that coach Ken Hitchcock and co. will look to nip in the butt as the Oilers prepare to take on the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday.
THE FIRST FRAME
A good scoring opportunity for the Oilers second line came minutes in, when Jesse Puljujarvi slide a nice cross-ice pass to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins driving the net. A smart play by Sam Bennett, who managed to get his stick on it, deflected the puck away.
Moments later, Matt Benning laid a big hit on Anthony Peluso — the Flames tough-guy the team called up specifically for tonight game, given the physical, fight filled match-up on Nov. 17.
Connor McDavid showed flashes during the Oilers first powerplay haflway through the first frame, but some great passing between he, Leon Draisaitl and Alex Chiasson led the Captain to the back of the net.
The play was truly made by Chiasson, who took a wobbly puck from Draisaitl and flipped it across the ice, off one foot, flush onto McDavid’s stick.
McMe Oh My.
— Oilersnation.com (@OilersNation) December 10, 2018
Before the puck even dropped, Zack Kassian and Peluso exchanged pleasantries that would eventually result in Peluso taking the worst of it fighting Milan Lucic.
Lucic laid out Travis Hamonic, which as you could imagine, resulted in Peluso doing the one thing he was in the lineup to do. Peluso took a two-minute unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the play leading to the fight.
The subsequent power play didn’t result in anything, beyond the Oilers firing a few pucks on net.
The second period started with the Oilers building off the moment them built in the first frame with two great breakaway opportunities. Flames tender David Rittich came up big negating the Oiler chances.
Adam Larsson had a sneaky-dirty play taking out Johnny Gaudreau then laying on him — karma came back minutes later when Darnell Nurse got dinged for a holding call behind the net.
Edmonton’s penalty killers stoned the Flames offensive hopes and dreams limiting them to only one shot on net.
Not long after, a long wrist shot from the blue line deflected off Peluso and into the back of the net. Ken Hitchcock threw the challenge flag and it paid off as the war room found Peluso to be impeding Mikko Koskinen’s ability to make a save on the play.
It makes the Oilers 2-0 challenging goals in the Hitchcock era, with the other being a win challenging a Tyler Toffoli goal.
The Oilers really buzzed afterwards. Lucic make some key plays to keep play in the offensive zone leading to direct shots.
Calgary came back with some strong chances of their own and Koskinen managed to shut the door with two impressive saves on the Flames with seconds left in the period.
The game seemed to have begun to slow down early into the third as neither team was able to gain much prowess in the respective offensive zones.
Kyle Brodziak took a hooking penalty as Gaudreau attempted to gain entry into the offensive zone and the Oilers penalty kill shut down the Flames once again, allowing a mere single shot on goal.
Matthew Tkachuk got into it a bit with Nugent-Hopkins on the kill as both players looked to get off the ice, but nothing much came of it.
Things heated up around the 15-minute mark as Sam Bennett steamrolled Koskinen after making a move around Darnell Nurse. Lucic and Kassian came in and had words for Bennett, while Tkachuk gave Koskinen a few shoves. It was weird.
None the less, it gave the Oilers a power-play opportunity with Bennett sitting for goaltender interference. Sloppy penalties contineud to plague the Flames, as they gave the Oilers another opportunity not long after when Dalton Prout gave an illegal hit to the head of Ty Rattie, who was already down on the ice.
Elias Lindholm took a dumb slashing call as he two-handed the stick out of Puljuarvi’s hand with just over five minutes left in the third.
Edmonton only had a few shots between the power-play chances — not exactly what you want to see from a team looking to close out a game they’ve largely been in control of.
On Twitter: @zjlaing