The Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers renew their Battle of Alberta rivalry on Saturday night when the two teams play for the second time in the span of two weeks.
The reigning Pacific Division-champion Flames won the first meeting, 4-3, in Edmonton on Oct. 15, jumping out to a 4-1 lead in the first 10:18 and then withstanding an Oiler third-period comeback that featured two goals, including one by Connor McDavid. Backup goaltender Dan Vladar made 26 saves, including a pair in the final seconds during a goalmouth scramble to seal the win.
The Flames, in the midst of an eight-game homestand, will be playing their second game over a seven-day span and will be coming in off a four-day break following an impressive 4-1 victory over Pittsburgh on Tuesday. Nazem Kadri scored twice and Jacob Markstrom turned aside 32 shots.
Calgary and Edmonton enter the contest tied for second in the Pacific with 10 points behind the Vegas Golden Knights. However, due to a strange scheduling quirk, the Flames have played a Pacific Division-low six games so far this season — three fewer than Vegas (after it hosts Anaheim on Friday), and two fewer than Edmonton — and are in the middle of a stretch of two games in nine days.
“It’s different for sure,” Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin said. “I think that’s been the story since the beginning of the season for us. We’ve had a little bit of a different schedule. We haven’t played too many games in a row, so sometimes it’s hard to get into that rhythm and flow.”
Still, Calgary has won five of its six games, including two in a row. The Flames claimed victories over defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado, the road win over an Edmonton team that knocked them out of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs in five games last season, and home wins over Vegas and Carolina.
Calgary’s lone loss was to Buffalo, 6-3, on Oct. 20.
“Obviously we’ll take where we are right now,” Hanifin said. “We’re in a pretty good spot. We just want to close out this month on a strong note. And get ready for November when we’ll be on the road a lot more (nine games). We’ll have to be prepared for that.”
Edmonton will be playing its third road contest in four nights. The Oilers won at St. Louis, 3-1, on Wednesday and followed that up with a wild 6-5 victory at Chicago on Thursday. McDavid finished with four points, including his second hat trick of the season and Leon Draisaitl celebrated his 27th birthday with the game-winning goal with 37.6 seconds to go.
“That’s the best present (I’ve ever) got,” Draisaitl said after his fourth goal of the season on a one-timer from the bottom of the right circle off a Evander Kane crossing pass.
Edmonton was called for 11 penalties against Chicago but managed to kill off eight of 10 power plays. Meanwhile, the Oilers converted three of their seven power-play chances.
“Not the way you draw it up, obviously, but it’s a big two points and I’ll leave it at that because there’s nothing else that needs to be said,” Draisaitl added. “There was no rhythm in the game for either team. I don’t know what else to say. It was a crazy game.”
Expect more of the same Saturday night in Calgary, according to Markstrom. The Flames won the playoff opener, 9-6, last season and the winning team scored at least five goals in four of the five contests.
“It is going to be fun,” Markstrom said. “When you look at the history and the type of games playing against those guys, it’s been a lot of action back and forth. It’s going to be a lot of fun and I don’t expect anything different Saturday.”
–Field Level Media