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The Day After 76.0: As emotions run high, Oilers pull out win over Flames

Edmonton OIlers Evander Kane
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
27 days ago
It’s the time of year when things begin to ramp up to another level.
For teams that are vying for playoff spots, have theirs locked up, or are jockeying for divisional positioning, every single night matters as game one of the playoffs approaches. On the other hand, you have other teams that find themselves on the outside looking in, ones that are playing for pride even though tee times approach.
Both sides of that coin were on full display on Saturday night as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Calgary Flames 4-2. Games between these clubs always have a certain fire to them, and this one was no different.
The Oilers jumped out to the first-period lead thanks to Leon Draisaitl’s 40th of the year with 16 seconds left. While Connor Brown would get his fourth of the year early in the second, Calgary would quickly respond with a goal of their own.
More than a few scrums and brouhaha’s broke out throughout the night, but after one in which Jonathan Huberdeau jammed at Oilers netminder Calvin Pickard — who was excellent again, turning aside 33 of 35 shots — it was an exchange on the Edmonton bench between Corey Perry and Evander Kane that caught the eyes of many.
The Sportsnet broadcast caught a standing Perry slamming the bench door closed before another clip moments later saw him barking at Kane. Analyst Kevin Bieksa, during the second intermission, speculated that Perry was upset over the shift before the scrum in which Kane turned the puck over.
With a minute left in the frame, the Oilers’ third line won a defensive zone draw and got the puck up the ice. At one point, McLeod had sent the puck down low to Kane, who skated with it behind the Flames’ net. Seemingly unaware of where other linemates were, he softly backhanded the puck towards the Flames’ net, only for the puck to bounce off the side of the net and to a Flames player who was able to advance the puck up the ice.
After the game, Knoblauch poured cold water over the exchange.
“I know before the period started, they had talked and made it out,” he said. “There’s just a disagreement, and two passionate players. Nothing more than that.”
It would all work out in the end for them and the Oilers, as despite Nazem Kadri tying the game at two on a power play 7:13 into the second, an Evan Bouchard blast on a power play of the Oilers’ own would end up being the game-winner. Calgary’s fate was sealed with a Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal into an empty Flames net.
Saturday night wasn’t the first time Kane had been seen jousting with a teammate on the bench.
During the second period of an Oilers’ 6-3 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 23rd, Kane and Draisaitl went at each other on the bench. As Bieksa said during the intermission of that game, “it’s good when the players are trying to figure it out like that.” Kane would be healthy scratched the following day in a game against the Senators.
Knoblauch, meanwhile, said Saturday that he has no issue with moments like them, so long as there’s no spillover so long as “it’s handled well.”
“Most important is do they stay composed, or focus, I should say focus. The more important word would be focus. Being able to return from that exchange ready for their next shift,” he said, adding “If they have that exchange, and it affects others on the bench, if it affects their next shift, then absolutely we don’t want to see that.
“These players are very competitive, and they have emotions. Sometimes that comes out. Overall, I don’t assume it’s going to happen again.”
With six games left in the regular season, the Oilers will need to keep the fire in their bellies. They get a few days off before kicking off a four-game home stand in which the Vegas Golden Knights arrive Tuesday, the Arizona Coyotes Friday before hosting the Vancouver Canucks next Saturday night in what could be the deciding game for the Pacific Division title.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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