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Player grades: Battle of Alberta rejoined in earnest as Oilers smoke Flames – Edmonton Journal



Oilers 8, Flames 3

Memo to David Rittich: next time you want to celebrate, maybe try not to rub the other team’s faces in it.

Edmonton Oilers didn’t take too kindly to the Calgary netminder’s exuberant stick toss after Wednesday night’s shootout victory, and took full advantage of not one but two chances to exact revenge just three nights later. The Oilers scored early and often, drove Rittich from the net with 4 goals on 17 shots, then tormented him some more when he returned to mop up his own mess in the third. In between times Cam Talbot came on in relief, made a bunch of saves, but lost his cool in a late-second-period mêlée that saw him first hack Sam Gagner, then eventually drop the catcher and blocker to trade punches with Edmonton stopper Mike Smith. That the two goaltenders played on the opposite teams just last season added further spice to the bizarre scene.

When the puck was in play the visitors were by far the better team. They struck in the game’s first minute and again in the second. By Minute #5, the significant numbers of Oilers boosters in attendance behind enemy lines were already giving Rittich a robust bronx cheer for stopping a dribbler from the other side of centre. The party was already on for those fans, who watched their club put up three goals in the first period and three more in the second.

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That middle frame was particularly entertaining, in which the Oil tied a franchise record with 24 shots on net, putting one past Rittich and two past Talbot. They added two more on Rittich in the final frame, the last on a penalty shot, to put the exclamation mark on an emphatic 8-3 win right in the Saddledome.

Overall shots were 49-26 Edmonton and Grade A scoring chances 20-11 in the Oilers’ biggest offensive outburst of the season to date. Once again Edmonton’s second line led the way, as Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Kailer Yamamoto were all over the puck, combining for seven takeaways and seven points in a dominant display of puck pressure and possession.

It was a strange, strange night, what with a goalie fight, a penalty shot, a whole bunch of goals and some pretty weird stats. Here’s one: in this fractious encounter, the Oilers landed a season-low 11 hits. Either that or Calgary’s minor scorer was closing his eyes and wincing every time a white sweater came within 3 feet of a red one. Somehow this no-hitter produced 102 penalty minutes; when did we last see an Oilers game with triple digits?

Amazing to consider that Cam Talbot didn’t play the first period or the third, and neither started nor finished the middle frame, yet was bombarded with 21 shots! He left the game with the bizarre combination of a .905 save percentage and a 7.38 goals against average. You don’t see that every day. Nor for that matter do you often see a goalie with more penalty minutes (21) than minutes played (16).

Then there was the emergency backup netminder theoretically dressing for both teams at the same time and could wind up playing for either. Call him Schrödinger’s goalie.

It was the kind of game that brought back mostly-fond memories of the Rebel League. (That would be the World Hockey Association to you young ;uns.) This one was especially fun if you happened to be rooting for the Oilers.

Player grades

#6 Adam Larsson, 7. Strong in his own end of the ice, active in the o-zone. Oilers outshot the Flames 12-4  and outscored them 3-0 during Larsson’s 16½ minutes. Also chipped in on the penalty kill.

#15 Josh Archibald, 6. Made a sweet pass to Kassian for the 2-0 goal just 65 seconds in. Otherwise played a solid, effective two-way game. Drew the penalty that led to Edmonton’s powerplay goal.

#16 Jujhar Khaira, 6. Dropped the flippers with Buddy Robinson in the first preliminary bout. Otherwise stuck to business on a checking line that spent a lot of time in the good end of the ice.

#19 Mikko Koskinen, 7. Called to duty after Smith got ejected late in the second, and delivered a pristine final frame. Had a few big stops to clean up some sloppy mistakes that briefly crept into the team’s game. Made a stunning split save in the game’s final second that put the capper on the night. 8 shots, 8 saves, 1.000 save percentage.

#23 Riley Sheahan, 7. An excellent outing that saw him make major contributions to 5 Grade A scoring chances for the Oilers, including a nice stretch pass to McDavid on the 4-1 goal just after a successful penalty kill. He led the forwards with 2:05 on the PK. 3 shots, 2 takeaways. The only blemish was a crummy 2/13=15% on the faceoff dot.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. Absolutely buried Matthew Tkachuk when the Flames’ disturber took a mild hack at a puck already lodged in Smith’s glove. Took a careless tripping penalty, but made amends with a hustling line change at its end that allowed McDavid to hop over the boards just in time to collect the outlet pass and score the 4-1 tally. 22 minutes, 3 shots, and a primary assist on McDavid’s powerplay goal.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 9. Another dominating performance by the burly centre, who was all over the puck all night. His best moment might have been a great steal off of Oliver Kylington just inside the Calgary blueline. Just when it seemed the Flame was walking the puck out of trouble after an extended Edmonton cycle, the hustling Draisaitl stole it back and took it hard to the net to begin the sequence that resulted in the game-breaking 5-3 tally. That was one of four assists for the league’s leading scorer, his fifth consecutive multi-point game. His work in the defensive zone was equally effective, using his giant blade to disrupt numerous passes. Hustled hard on the backcheck to put out a potential fire early in the third. Won a ton of puck battles, including 11/18=61% on the dot on a night the rest of his mates were just 11/39=28%. As suggested in today’s game day post he took Rittich’s stick toss (which was in his face first and foremost) to heart, and brought his A+ game to the rematch. As he put it in the post game scrum, “show some respect”. Chipped in on 6 Oilers Grade A chances at even strength, and 0 against. Now has 6-15-21, +13 in the 10 games since his current line was put together, with five straight multi-point outings. Has stretched his NHL scoring lead to 4 points. Named the game’s first star for the third time in four days.

#39 Alex Chiasson, 6. Played his 500th NHL game in the home of one of his former teams and enjoyed himself thoroughly. Helped set up Jones’ goal, but his bigger contribution on the play was the big screen he created at the net front where he does his best work. Strong along the boards as usual, though his stick let him down on a few touches, also as usual. His night ended slightly early with a misconduct, coincidental with Matthew Tkachuk whose own night couldn’t end early enough.

#41 Mike Smith, 6. Strange outing that saw the good, the bad, and the ugly sides of his game. His first involvement a minute and a half in set the stage when he mishandled a routine ringaround leaving the net wide open for a Johnny Gaudreau slam dunk that would have taken the sting out of the tail of Edmonton’s quick start. Somehow Smith was able to scramble back, lay his big paddle across the goal mouth, and reject Gaudreau’s drive. Minutes later a shot through traffic squeezed though him but just missed the post, another sign that it might simply be Edmonton’s night. He made a few decent plays handling the puck but got too cute on a couple of others and had trouble fielding several ringarounds, one of which led to the Gaudreau chance and another to Tkachuk’s goal that made it 4-2 early in the second. Made an absolute hash of it on Calgary’s third goal when he challenged Elias Lindhom who had the puck behind the goal line, then flopped around outside his crease while Lindholm picked his moment to bank the puck off the prone netminder and into the cage. He did contribute a few big stops along the way, none bigger than slamming the door on Derek Ryan’s second period breakaway. And of course he was involved in the night’s main event when he saw Talbot precipitate a scrum in which Calgary had 6 participants to Edmonton’s 5, prompting the Oilers stopper to skate to centre to challenge his counterpart who promptly took him up on it. Smith got the better of the comical exchange that followed, even as it ended both men’s night early. 18 shots, 15 saves, .833 save percentage.

#44 Zack Kassian, 6. Scored the Oilers’ second goal just 1:05 in when he converted Archibald’s fine pass with an equally fine shot to the top shelf, breaking an eleven game goal-less drought and a six game pointless skein in the same moment. Only so-so thereafter, even as it’s probably just as well that he held his truculence in check. Did manage to step out of the way when Tkachuk took a(nother) run at him, and the Calgary pest paid a price when his hip hit the dasher rather than the targeted opponent. Took a whack himself when Sam Bennett carved him on the wrist just as he was shooting from point-blank range, then he crashed hard into the end boards.

#52 Patrick Russell, 6. Played a greasy game in the trenches, got under the skin of a few opponents, and somehow produced 6 shots on net, tied with RNH for the team high. His 2 hits also led the club. Seemed like more somehow.

#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 8. His best game to date, in which he was all over the puck in all three zones. Scored the opening goal just 34 seconds in, as he first shook the puck free with a good (albeit uncredited) hit, then headed for the net front where he snagged a rebound and made a precision shot against the grain for the finish, then celebrated with pizzazz in . Later made a great backhand feed to RNH for the crucial 5-3 tally. In between times he was all over the puck on the forecheck, on the backcheck, on the neutral zone check. Wherever the puck was, he was close at hand. 11 games into the NHL part of his season, he has tallied 5-5-10, +11, with all the points coming at even strength and all the assists being primary helpers. To this point he has been a revelation.

#74 Ethan Bear, 6. Had the puck moving north for much of the game, including a stretch pass in the general vicinity of McDavid that earned him an assist on the 2-0 tally. He was beaten by a pass on the first Calgary goal, and coughed up the puck in the build-up to their third, even as the goal itself was ultimately a goaltending mistake. Found himself in his first NHL fight when Matt Tkachuk targeted the one NHL rookie on the ice and held his own without a problem. A goal away from the Gordie Howe Hat Trick.

#77 Oscar Klefbom, 7. Edmonton’s defensive crew was a big factor in this one, with Klefbom playing a key role as usual. Played a team-high 23:45 during which he collected a couple of assists and a tidy +2 rating. Oilers outshot the Flames 12-5 during his 17 even-strength minutes. As usual, he also contributed to both sides of special team duties. Blocked a shot with his head and lived to tell about it.

#82 Caleb Jones, 6. Beaten badly by Buddy Robinson on the first Calgary goal when the big Flame took an inside path to power past and ultimately shrug off the young Oilers rearguard. Caleb got that one back when his good outside shot found a hole to make it 6-3.

#83 Matt Benning, 6. Had trouble keeping his feet on occasion, most noticeably on the Ryan breakaway though Smith had his back on that one. Persevered to end the night as a positive player on both shot and goal differential. In the 13 minutes he played at evens the Oilers fired 14 shots on net.

#89 Sam Gagner, 7. Playing with desperation and determination this last while, and delivered another effective outing. Made a fine defensive play to thwart Mikael Backlund on a first-period chance. Nearly scored on a dangerous deflection, and did manage to jam the puck into the net just as the whistle was blowing, which touched off Talbot’s outburst. In the chaos that ensued Sam himself gave Mark Giordano a shot. Hit the scoresheet in the third with a terrific shot from outside the prime scoring area which whistled by Rittich’s ear on its way into the top corner, short side.

#91 Gaetan Haas, 7. Delivered his first multi-point game in the NHL, first earning an assist on Jones’ goal from the point, then scoring the final tally with 2 minutes left. That came on a penalty shot with 2 minutes left, just to add the cherry on top of a tasty sundae for Oilers fans. Having drawn the chance in the first place, Haas finished it with élan, right through Rittich’s five hole. Sweet dreams, Mr. Bautista.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 8. Scored the massive 5-3 goal that finally shifted the game in Edmonton’s favour once and for all, burying Yamamoto’s fine feed. Was previously robbed by Talbot on one close-in chance, stymied again by his old mate on a breakaway, which he followed up with a great cross-ice feed to Sheahan who was also thwarted. Nuge’s 6 shots led the club, as did his 3 takeaways, 1 more than each of his linemates as the entire trio was all over the disc all night. Made a tremendous play on the backcheck to clean up a possible Calgary jailbreak very early in the third.

#97 Connor McDavid, 8. His strong forecheck was a key component to Kassian’s goal, scored on the line’s first shift of the night. Scored consecutive goals straddling the first intermission to stretch Edmonton’s lead from 2-1 to 4-1. The first was a nifty sleight of hand in which he turned Noah Hanifin into a statue, which he promptly walked around to beat Rittich from the slot. The second on an efficient five-second shift (!) in which McDavid jumped on the ice to replace the man out of the sin bin (Nurse), took a stretch pass, walked in, and overpowered the beleaguered tendy with an outside rocket that, for the moment at least, seemed to end Rittich’s night early. Played a strong defensive game by eye, backed up by colleague David Staples’ preliminary count of 5 contributions to Grade A chances for the Oilers and 0 against. When both McDavid and Draisaitl pitch a shutout in that category the Oilers are mighty tough to beat.


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Follow me on Twitter @BruceMcCurdy

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Canadiens @ Oilers: Start time, Tale of the Tape, and how to watch – Habs Eyes on the Prize



Montreal Canadiens @ Edmonton Oilers

How to watch

Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: CBC, Sportsnet 360 (English), TVAS (French)

The Montreal Canadiens will look to add another win on their Western-Canada-plus-Seattle road trip two nights removed from an exciting 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday. The game might have been a one-goal contest, but it would’ve been a lot different if goaltender Jake Allen hadn’t stood on his head, making a whopping 45 saves in the victory, his first since November 19.

Tale of the Tape

Canadiens Statistics Oilers
Canadiens Statistics Oilers
12-10-1 Record 13-11-0
45.8% (24th) Scoring-chances-for % 50,5% (17th)
2,78 (26th) Goals per game 3,42 (9th)
3,39 (22nd) Goals against per game 3,63 (7th)
15,7% (29th) PP% 27,6% (5th)
82,3% (6th) PK% 71,6% (27th)
1-1-0 H2H Record (’21-22) 1-1-0

On Thursday, it was Montreal’s first overall pick from this summer’s draft, Juraj Slafkovský, who opened the scoring on the first shot of the game at 13 seconds, when Calgary all-star goaltender Jacob Markstrom decided to leave his crease to try to play the puck, which inevitably resulted in a poor miscue by the former Vezina nominee.

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Habs standout Cole Caufield, who has been mesmerizing fans and brass alike, scored the eventual game-winner, a power-play marker six-and-a-half minutes into the third period for his team-leading 13th goal of the season. The man advantage has been a bit of a soft spot all season, finding itself 29th in the league, and also especially after going zero-for-six earlier in the week against San Jose, it was nice to see it clicking for once.

Thursday’s game was also a homecoming of sorts for Sean Monahan, a former 2013 first-round pick of the Calgary Flames. His return was met with a lot of chants and cheers, as opposed to Kirby Dach’s return to Chicago a week prior. Monahan, who currently sits fourth in team scoring with five goals and 16 points, assisted on both Montreal goals.

Tonight’s opponent, the Edmonton Oilers, saw their three-game winning streak come to an abrupt halt in their last game Thursday night, a 5-3 loss to Kirill ‘The Thrill’ Kaprizov and the Minnesota Wild squad. The Oilers’ one-two punch of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each had a goal and a helper in the contest, but it didn’t help their cause.

McDavid and Draisaitl have been two of the best players in the game in recent years, and yet again find themselves on pace for record-setting seasons, sitting number one and three in the NHL scoring race, respectively. McDavid’s 19 goals and 43 points through his first 24 games make his numbers last season (44 goals and 79 assists) look like a poor performance for the perennial all-star.

His German counterpart currently has 16 goals and 38 points, making his career-best totals of 55 goals and 110 points also seem well within reach, which makes these two some of the best teammates at the top of the leaderboard since the late-90s when the Pittsburgh Penguins had Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr taking the league down in a fury.

Both Edmonton goaltenders, Jack Campbell and Stuart Skinner, have shared an equal workload with Mike Smith on the Long-Term Injured Reserve list. Campbell, who signed an off-season deal with the Oilers at five years and-$25 million, has put up seven wins, but a league-worst 4.12 goals-against-average.

Last season saw these two squads split the season series, with each road team getting a victory. Edmonton took the first contest, a 7-2 dismantling at the Bell Centre on January 29, and then Montreal exacted revenge on March 5, with a 5-2 victory at Rogers Place.

One bright spot for Habs last year was that of all nine of Edmonton’s goal-scorers versus Montreal, none wore the number 97. McDavid registered zero points across both contests. Just a little optimism that it can repeat itself Saturday in Alberta.

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NHL Buzz: Manson out week to week for Avalanche –



Welcome to the NHL Buzz. The 2022-23 regular season is underway, and has you covered with all the latest news.

Colorado Avalanche

Josh Manson is out week to week for the Avalanche because of a lower-body injury.

The defenseman, who sustained the injury in a 6-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, has six points (two goals, four assists) in 21 games this season.

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Andreas Englund was recalled from Colorado of the American Hockey League. He has one assist in four games with the Avalanche this season.

“Englund has played good when he’s been up with us,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “I really like what he did when he was up. … Just another big (6-foot-3, 189 pounds), heavy, strong guy that’s been an efficient puck mover for us on the back end.”

Carolina Hurricanes

Teuvo Teravainen could return for the Hurricanes on Saturday one day after the forward was activated off injured reserve.

Teravainen, who has missed the past 10 games with an upper-body injury, has seven assists in 14 games this season.

Carolina plays at the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (10:30 p.m. ET; BSW, BSSO, ESPN+, SN NOW).

Philadelphia Flyers

Cam Atkinson said he’s getting closer to making his season debut, but the forward remains day to day because of an upper-body injury.

Atkinson added he’s been fully cleared for contact and is not restricted in any way.

“It’s obviously good to be back with everyone and take a little bit of licks and see how I do,” Atkinson said. “Just day to day for me right now.

“It’s been pretty good. A little bit of an adjustment but just working out the kinks. I’m getting close, but not enough to where I think I can help this team right now. But I’m closer than not.”

Atkinson was second on the Flyers in goals (23) and points (50) last season. Entering Saturday, Philadelphia was last in the NHL in goals per game (2.38).

Atkinson said the nature of his injury has allowed him to skate and stay in shape that way but that it might take a game or two for him to get his timing with the puck back to normal.

“If I was playing and if we had a day off, even one day off, even if I played 30 games and I took a day off, I still feel like that next practice my timing is just a little bit off,” he said. “Maybe it’s more mental than not. So obviously not playing any games it’s going to take a game or two to get adjusted, but we’re on a pretty good schedule for me right now. I’ve revved it up a lot and I’m feeling good. I feel like my timing is pretty solid, but you really won’t know until you play a game.” — Adam Kimelman

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World Cup Daily: Timeless Messi is on a mission for Argentina –





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