Flames beat Oilers 9-5 despite Draisaitl’s hat trick
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — Matthew Tkachuk had two goals and two assists, Johnny Gaudreau set a career high with five assists and the Calgary Flames beat the Edmonton Oilers 9-5 in a wild game Saturday night.
Leon Draisaitl had a hat trick to pace Edmonton (36-25-5), tying Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the NHL lead with 47 goals. Derick Brassard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored for the Oilers.
Elias Lindholm and Mikael Backlund each scored twice for Calgary (40-17-8). Chris Tanev, Oliver Kylington and Dillon Dube added a goal apiece.
Tkachuk has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the last four games, while Gaudreau also has 11 points in that same span (three goals, eight assists).
“The big line was the difference,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “They had a good night and they’ve been good at 5-on-5 all year. There’s something to be said about the difference between goals for and goals against when you’re on the ice.”
Jacob Markstrom made 26 saves for the Flames and improved to 31-12-7.
Mike Smith, in relief of Mikko Koskinen, stopped 22 of the 26 shots he faced. Koskinen allowed five goals on 12 shots.
“It’s not on our goalies. It’s on us,” said Draisaitl, who was minus-4 despite the three goals and an assist. “It’s an off night. Not good enough, obviously. Starts with me. I have to be a lot better.”
Connor McDavid also was minus-4, a career worst.
The provincial rivals ended up splitting their four-game season series.
“That was a lot of fun,” Gaudreau said. “I’ve been here for a long time and this is the most competitive the Battle of Alberta has been since I’ve been here.”
In front of a raucous crowd of 19,289, Calgary’s first sellout since February 21, 2020, against Boston, the game was a thriller from start to finish with the goals coming seemingly non-stop.
In the third period, Flames fans chanted “We want 10!” and rose to their feet as the final horn approached.
“Pretty cool when you got a standing ovation with a minute or two to play,” Tkachuk acknowledged.
With the score tied 4-all early in the second period, the Flames took their third and final lead on a pair of goals less than three minutes apart from Tkachuk.
At 5:06, Gaudreau muscled his way past Evan Bouchard to retrieve a loose puck, then spun and sent a pass into the slot to a wide-open Tkachuk, who sent a shot through Koskinen’s pads. That ended the night for Koskinen.
It didn’t start off any better for Smith, who was beaten between the pads by Tkachuk at 7:39 when an Oilers turnover in their own end allowed Gaudreau to find Tkachuk in behind the defense.
“He plays a complete game. It’s not about goals and assists always,” Sutter said about Gaudreau. “You’ve got to play the whole game. He’s our best checker. I’ve said that lots.”
Brandishing a dangerous power play, the Oilers roared back again, making it 6-5 when they converted a two-man advantage they got when Erik Gudbranson was sent off for high-sticking three seconds into Andrew Mangiapane’s penalty.
Draisaitl’s third of the game at 9:18 of the second and 47th of the season brought about 50 hats onto the ice from the boisterous Oilers supporters scattered throughout the red-clad crowd.
Early in the third, Markstrom robbed Evander Kane after he was set up in front on a great passing sequence with McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi that would have tied it. Calgary then pushed the puck up ice, with Gaudreau setting up Lindholm for his second of the night to make it 7-5.
“I told Marky after the game, that’s the difference,” Sutter said. “There’s lots of goalies where the coaches yank them, or the goalie doesn’t play very good after that. Difference in a lot of teams are big saves and bad goals.”
The Flames added an insurance goal just more than three minutes later when Backlund notched his second, whipping a shot inside the post.
Edmonton scored 32 seconds into the game when Brassard deflected Bouchard’s point shot past Markstrom, but the Oilers’ only lead lasted less than five minutes.
Lindholm was sent in alone on a pass from Tkachuk and he went to his backhand, putting a shot under the crossbar.
The Flames then surged in front on goals 16 seconds apart.
“We’ve spent the last five weeks or so trying to improve certain areas of our game, and I thought we got away from it tonight and we paid the price,” said Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft, who is 13-7-2 since taking over for Dave Tippett. “That stings. It’s nine even-strength goals against. Not good enough.”
NOTES: Gaudreau and Lindholm are tied for the NHL lead at plus-49. Tkachuk is fourth at plus-42. ... Noah Hanifin played his 500th NHL game. At 25 years, 60 days, he’s the fifth-youngest defenseman in NHL history to reach the milestone and youngest since 1994. ... Flames center Ryan Carpenter made his debut after being acquired from Chicago at Monday’s trade deadline. He centered a line with Milan Lucic and Trevor Lewis.
Edmonton: Hosts Arizona in the opener of three-game homestand.
Calgary: Hosts Colorado on Tuesday in the fourth game of a six-game homestand.
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