Ah, a meaningful Battle of Alberta. Before the puck was even on the ice for this one we all knew how big it was and this one was much more than a simple BoA. It was a game that would have serious implications on how the season plays out.
And the Calgary Flames were the ones who came out on top moving into first place in the Pacific Division with their 4-3 win.
In fact, there’s only been two Battle of Alberta’s that have been this important this late in the season. The first was Jan. 13, 1988 — an Oilers win, and Feb. 25, 1990 — a Flames win. And tonight’s match had all the fireworks of a late ’80’s battle. It had the high-scoring prowess. Look at the scoreboard.
And boy, did it have the antics. Just look at the penalty sheet.
Most notably from tonight was that the Zack Kassain – Matthew Tkachuk rivalry continued to rage. Early in the game Tkachuk caught Kassian with a hip check to the head area that sent the Oilers forward flying. Nothing came of it at the time, but Kassian kept Tkachuk’s number.
When the gritty Flames forward took another run at Kassian late in the second, things got out of hand. Kassian erupted trying to fight Tkachuk, but the Calgary Flame wanted none of it. On a subsequent penalty kill early in the third, the Flames scored in what was the ultimate dagger in the game. Edmonton had more than enough time in the third period — which included a late powerplay followed by time with an empty net — to get themselves back into it.
All in all, there’s still more to come out of what happened between Tkachuk and Kassian. I’d wonder if the NHL player safety would take a look at the first Tkachuk hit on Kassian as there was clear contact between Tkachuk’s hip and Kassian’s head. Kassian very well could face some kind of discipline for his antics.
What I do know, however, is that the Oilers played a strong game against a bitter rival further igniting what has been a rather tame Battle of Alberta for some time. These two teams square off again January 29th.
That should be fun.
The Oilers got early returns for their decision to start Mikko Koskinen. The big Finn shut the door multiple times for the Oilers in the first few minutes of the period to keep it a scoreless game.
The first few minutes had that playoff feel, but it was clear that Calgary was ready for it. Edmonton, not so much. Elias Lindholm broke the scoring with a quick spinning, no-look shot that somehow found its way through Koskinen’s five-hole. 1-0 Flames.
And Edmonton got one of their own back 1:03 later when Kailer Yamamoto had a gorgeous cross-ice feed to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins who fired a shot last Cam Talbot. 1-1.
Connor McDavid. What more can you say. The superstar snagged a puck away from a punching Noah Hanifin and used his incredible breakaway speed to give him a one-on-one with Cam Talbot. McDavid made a quick move to put the puck upstairs surely giving Talbot some nightmares to come. 2-1 Oilers.
But the battle didn’t stop there. With only 40 seconds left in the frame, Johnny Gaudreau bought himself some time taking a long wrist shot from the top of the left circle (that may have taken a bounce of Adam Larsson) and beyond Mikko Koskinen. 2-2 to end the first.
The Oilers finally had a soft goal go in their direction. Yeah, you read that right. The Oilers got their third goal of the game to regain the lead a minute and a half into the second period when the team capitalized on Gaudreau blowing a tire in his own zone. Yamamoto was there to snag the puck and whip it across the ice to a streaking Nugent-Hopkins, whose shot deflected off the skate of Gaudreau and past Talbot. 3-2 Oilers.
After forgetting to show up for the first half of the second period, the Flames scored an ugly goal of their own with a little over eight minutes left in the period. A weird bounce turned the puck over in the Oilers own zone and while Koskinen was able to make a quick first save, Dillon Dube was able to smack home the rebound. 3-3.
With five and a quarter left in the second, the Oilers should have had the fourth goal of the game. James Neal broke in on the left of Talbot firing a quick wrist shot, but the Flames netminder was able to get across and make a blocker save.
Things got hairy with a few minutes left int he frame. For the second time tonight, Matthew Tkachuk laid a questionable hit on Zack Kassian and well, things got ugly. Kassian grabbed Tkachuk and didn’t stop swinging as he ragdolled Tkachuk to the ice. The Flames forward refused to fight back, and Kassian was handed a 10-minute misconduct and a four-minute double minor for roughing.
the two Tkachuk hits that led to said ragdolling: pic.twitter.com/qzzLMSUgCm
— Yahoo Sports NHL (@YahooSportsNHL) January 12, 2020
If you had hopes that the Oilers would bail out Kassian for his penalty, you were wrong. Calgary had under two minutes of powerplay time and Elias Lindholm found twine on a long wrist shot. 4-3 Flames.
The third period felt rather uneventful with no goals scored, nor any further antics between the two clubs.
On Twitter: @zjlaing
|04:04||Calgary||Elias Lindholm (19) ASST: Andrew Mangiapane (8), Matthew Tkachuk (24)||0-1|
|05:07||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (11) ASST: Kailer Yamamoto (2), Leon Draisaitl (45)||1-1|
|09:06||Edmonton||Connor McDavid (25) ASST: Ethan Bear (12)||2-1|
|19:19||Calgary||Johnny Gaudreau (13) ASST: Sean Monahan (22), Noah Hanifin (9)||2-2|
|01:24||Edmonton||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (12) ASST: Kailer Yamamoto (3)||3-2|
|11:34||Calgary||Dillon Dube (4) ASST: Derek Ryan (16)||3-3|
|00:39||Calgary||Elias Lindholm (20) ASST: Mark Giordano (16), Johnny Gaudreau (25)||3-4|
|18:06||Edmonton||Zack Kassian – Misconduct – 10 minutes|
|18:06||Edmonton||Zack Kassian – Roughing – 4 minutes, Served by Joakim Nygard|
|11:25||Calgary||Noah Hanifin – Interference – 2 minutes|