The Battle of Alberta did not disappoint!
« The craziest thing was I looked at the scoreboard and it was 6-5 with about 10 minutes left in the second half, » Tkachuk recalled.
The striker, who enjoyed a two-goal, two-assist night, continued his commentary after picking up a sheet of the match summary that was on the table in front of him in the press room. He glanced at it, but seeing everything written on it, he dropped it.
« There’s so much written, I can’t even understand it, » Tkachuk said with a grimace.
This is how the fourth and final round of the Battle of Alberta unfolded this season. An offensive fest unlike anything you’d expect from teams trying to prepare for the playoffs.
The two Alberta clubs met 19 days ago in a close game that ended 3-1 in favor of Calgary. Since then, Edmonton had gone 6-1-1 while Calgary was 5-3-1.
But on Saturday, the Flames’ top line, formed by Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau (five passes) and Elias Lindholm (two goals), amassed a total of 11 points in addition to finishing the evening with a differential of plus-4.
« Our first line made the difference by giving us the lead and going for the big goal like always, » Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said. The Oilers scored early in the game, and it’s easy for pundits to ask ‘what happened?’ But who scored the next goal? It was the trio of [Lindholm]is not it?
“They had a big night and they’ve been good at even strength all season. Goal differential says a lot. »
Video: EDM@CGY: Lindholm beats Koskinen on breakaway backhand
Due to the number of quality chances that have been given, it cannot necessarily be said that goalkeepers have been mediocre. He is also the doorman of the Flames Jacob Markstrom who orchestrated the turning point of the match when he stopped Evander Kane during a 3-on-1 caused by a bad substitution at 2:37 of the third period.
Eighteen seconds later, Lindholm scored his second to make it 7-5.
» I said to [Markstrom] after the match that he had made the difference, mentioned Sutter. There are several goalkeepers who could have been taken out of the game or who would have had difficulty reviving. What separates the teams are big saves and bad goals. »
Asked if Saturday’s game reminded him of the 1980s Battle of Alberta duels, where goals were high due to Wayne Gretzky and Jarri Kurri on one side, Joe Nieuwendyk and Hakan Loob the other.
« No, there would have been fights and more checks, » Sutter said.
The latter also did not understand why so many hats and caps were thrown on the ice at the Scotiabank Saddledome when the Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl scored his hat trick at 9:18 of the second period.
“I don’t understand why there were all these black hats on the ice. Probably there was a free distribution in Leduc (a town near Edmonton) or something. »
Video: EDM@CGY: Draisaitl scores a hat-trick against the Flames
Draisaitl also wasn’t impressed with his people’s performance, even though she allowed him to join Auston Matthews at the top of the race for the Maurice-Richard trophy with 47 goals.
» It does not matter. You can’t lose nine regardless.
« You can’t give up nine goals, it doesn’t matter against whom. You will never win an NHL game if you give up nine goals. So whatever else happened in the game, it wasn’t enough. From A to Z, and it starts with me and our group of leaders. »
The Oilers (36-25-5) sit third in the Pacific Division, four points behind the Los Angeles Kings, and are trying to pull away from the Vegas Golden Knights (one point) and Vancouver Canucks (four points) in order to avoid being in the race for one of the two places of fourth ace.
Edmonton was enjoying success heading into Saturday’s game under new head coach Jay Woodcroft, who replaced Dave Tippett on Feb. 10. His 5-on-5 game, which had been a weakness being outscored 100-88 under Tippett, is now 49-36 in his favor in 21 games since Woodcroft’s arrival.
The Flames, however, gave them a lesson on Saturday, scoring all their goals (9-2) at even strength.
“We spent the last five weeks improving some elements of our game, but I think we strayed from what we had been working on, and we paid the price,” said Woodcroft, who has a record of 13. -7-2 since his arrival. » It hurts. We arrived at the Saddledome to face a team that really don’t give away many goals. We have entered five. It should have been enough to allow us to win the game. But tonight, that’s not what happened. It’s what we gave them that made the difference. »
Both teams were eager to move on after this game filled with twists and turns. Although the win allowed the Flames to maintain their seven-point lead over the Kings at the top of the Pacific Division, the celebrations will be short-lived.
« For me, it’s a game that we won, and we’re moving on, » said Gaudreau. A very difficult week awaits us. We face Colorado (Tuesday), St. Louis (Saturday) and LA (Thursday). It’s a big week against three great teams. »
Edmonton returns home to face the Arizona Coyotes on Monday (9:30 p.m. ET; SN1, SNW, BSAZ, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).
“I’m sure we’re going to play better (Monday),” said Draisaitl.
“We had a bad one in the body, said the Oilers forward Zach Hyman. We will remember it and learn from it. We will face them again and we will regroup after this match. We didn’t play well. It was bad in every facet. »