Despite a frantic and frenzied last minute, the Edmonton Oilers’ comeback attempt fell short in Calgary Monday night, as the club dropped a 4-3 decision to the Flames.
“You got to play hard,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett said after the game. “If you’re not going to play hard, you’re not going to win.”
Early in the game, Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira popped Flames defenceman Oliver Kylington with a hard body check. Khaira’s shoulder drove into Kylington’s head on the play, and the Flames defenceman left the game for a time. A few minutes later, Calgary’s Brett Ritchie dropped the gloves with Khaira, who was felled by a stiff right to the left cheek. Khaira was wobbly as he left the ice.
The Flames took advantage of a neutral zone turnover by Connor McDavid to go ahead in the second. Flames forward Elias Lindholm sent Dillon Dube in alone, and his shot found the five-hole on Oilers netminder Mike Smith.
Kylington set up Lindholm in front to make it 2-0. Edmonton replied 52 seconds later when Adam Larsson jammed the puck behind Calgary goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
Still in the second, Smith got caught out of the net, allowing Milan Lucic to set up Andrew Mangiapane for the Flames’ third goal.
Josh Archibald knifed in a pass from Devin Shore to bring the Oilers back within one.
Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl tied it 5:25 in to the third with his 17th of the season, but Noah Hanifin restored the Flames’ lead 1:07 later.
The Oilers pulled Smith with 1:50 left. Edmonton forward Jesse Puljujarvi fired a shot destined for the far corner with four seconds left, but Markstrom came up with an arm save.
“They’ve played really well the last couple games,” said Oilers blueliner Darnell Nurse, who was a minus one in 30:15 played.
“Their coach (Darryl Sutter) has brought some life into their team.”
The Oilers’ record now falls to 18-13-0 on the season, tying them for second in the North Division with the Jets at 36 points, despite having played three more games than their Manitoba rivals.
It’s a stat Tippett said he is very much aware of.
“You look at the standings every day,” he said. “Two points are more valuable than not getting two points, and that’s how we’re looking at this.”
Oilers defenceman Tyson Barrie didn’t play the last two periods with a lower body issue.
The Oilers (18-13) will play in Calgary again on Wednesday.
–With files from 630 CHED’s David Boles