Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves to lead the Calgary Flames to a 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night at Rogers Place.
“They got a lead and we pushed a little bit, but there’s just not enough there,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said after the game. “You could tell fatigue was a factor in our game. We just weren’t as sharp as we needed to be.”
The Flames took advantage of a bungled breakout by the Oilers to go up 1-0 6:32 into the game. Calgary forward Matthew Tkachuk set up teammate Elias Lindholm for his 16th goal of the season.
“They’re a desperate team over there, and we played a game yesterday with travel and you can tell they had a little bit more jump than us,” Oilers defenceman Ethan Bear said.
The Oilers pulled even when James Neal’s bad angle shot eluded Markstrom.
“(After) getting back late, trying to get some rest here today and get ready to go tonight and sometimes you’re a little sloppy, but I thought we were right there going into the third period,” Neal said.
“He’s worked hard in practice to try to get himself up and going here,” Tippett said of Neal. “He’s had a tough year with injuries and with COVID(-19).
“He’s a player that has a history of playing well in the playoffs so he’s pushing to get ready.”
Lindholm scored again in the second when Rasmus Andersson’s point shot ticked off his leg.
Edmonton goaltender Mike Smith made a mind-bending save in the final minute of the second. The Flames broke in on a shorthanded two-on-one. Smith was down on his belly as the pass went across to Lindholm, who fired a shot bound for the middle of the net. Suddenly, Smith shot his glove straight up and snared the puck.
Markstrom responded with a couple of big saves early in the third. He stoned Oilers defenceman Dmitry Kulikov at the tail end of a goal-mouth scramble, then denied Kailer Yamamoto on a point-blank look.
“These are playoff-style games and when you’re playing a team that’s fighting for their lives, they’re putting everything on the line and we have to match that and bring that intensity, and down the line that’s going to help us grow to be a good playoff team,” Bear said.
Flames forward Dillon Dube made it 3-1 with 7:52 left, cleaning up the loose puck after Milan Lucic’s shot trickled through Smith.
Oilers captain Connor McDavid was held off the scoresheet after racking up 15 points in the previous five games.
The Oilers (29-17-2) will host the Flames again Saturday night.
–With files form 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott
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