Toffoli scores twice on Battle of Alberta debut
The Calgary Flames took on the Edmonton Oilers for the third iteration of the Battle of Alberta this season. The Oilers won the first two games, but those two teams entered the game with different tendencies. While the Flames are pushing hard to win the Pacific Division, the Oilers are outside the playoffs and looking to reclaim the second wildcard spot.
Calgary launched Jacob Markstrom as a starter while the Oilers turned to Mikko Koskinen – Mike Smith was out of the game due to illness.
The first period was uneventful, especially for a battle in Alberta. Neither team was particularly dominant over the other. Although there were chances on both sides, the period ended with a weak event and it was locked at 0-0 after one.
In the second period, the Flames struck first on the power play. Johnny Gaudreau passed the puck to Matthew Tkachuk, who was stationed in front of the net and immediately tried to get between his legs for a shot attempt. However, his stick was tied and the puck went through the crease to an open Tyler Toffoli for the game’s first goal.
Gaudreau’s assist on the goal would be his 50th of the season.
A few minutes later, Toffoli’s new line enters the offensive zone on a transition game. Andrew Mangiapane passed the puck through the neutral zone and Adam Ruzicka entered the zone, quickly passing it to Toffoli. With time and space, Toffoli got his second of the game over Koskinen’s glove.
Just like that, Toffoli scored his sixth and seventh goals as the Calgary Flame, doing so in just nine and a half games. Ruzicka landed a perfectly executed main assist to get back into the lineup, having been scratched from the last four contests.
Calgary entered the second intermission with a healthy two-goal lead, which wasn’t a bad spot against the Oilers.
The Flames found themselves in the penalty box quite frequently in the game, and the Oilers started their fourth power play just 40 seconds into the third period. However, Calgary’s penalty kill completely stifled the Oilers, limiting them to three shots on four occasions.
Just before five minutes into the final quarter, the Oilers took a break. A wide shot from Darnell Nurse bounced oddly off the backboards, then ricocheted off a referee’s skate. The original trajectory might have seen the puck clear the area, but instead the puck was picked up by Derek Ryan for a shot and the rebound went to Devin Shore with a wide-open net to shoot at.
After giving up the unlucky goal, the Flames had a few straight power plays where they finally turned the momentum in their favor. Prior to that, the Flames seemingly backed off instead of pressing for a bigger lead.
To be fair, Calgary has five games on the schedule this week, so conserving energy wouldn’t be the worst strategy. Their slate of games includes hosting the Washington Capitals tomorrow, hosting the Tampa Bay Lightning two days later, then another back-to-back game against the Detroit Red Wings at home, then heading to Denver to face the Colorado avalanche.
However, back-to-back power plays turned the tide for the home team, as mentioned. Shortly after the second power play ended and the game was in its final three minutes, Gaudreau was thrown on a breakaway by Elias Lindholm. The duo would combine for another breakaway goal from Gaudreau, making it two straight games they connected. This time, Gaudreau slipped the puck behind Koskinen’s pad to restore the two-goal lead.
The Oilers pulled Koskinen for the extra forward but couldn’t score again. Calgary picked up its first win over Edmonton of the season and extended its lead in the Pacific Division with the bold effort.
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