Oilers take big lead, hold on for 7-5 win over Flames
CALGARY, Alberta (AP) After taking a big lead early in the third period, Edmonton had to hold off a furious rally by the Calgary Flames.
Patrick Maroon scored to give the Oilers a five-goal advantage in the opening minutes of the final period, and they held on to beat the Flames 7-5 on Saturday night.
Jesse Puljujarvi had two goals in the first period, and Jujhar Khaira, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored for Edmonton, which led 6-1 after Maroon’s goal 1:29 into the third.
Sam Bennett scored twice, and Micheal Ferland and Johnny Gaudreau once each to pull the Flames to 6-5 with 7:40 remaining.
”The first five minutes we were on them and got pucks in and got the forecheck and then they got one, they got two, they got three, they got four,” Maroon said. ”My heart skipped a beat there for a second on the fifth goal.”
Nugent-Hopkins sealed the Oilers’ sixth straight win against the Flames with just more than a minute left.
”It’s been a good streak right now. We want to keep that rolling,” Nugent-Hopkins said. ”Obviously a divisional team and a natural rivalry with the Alberta thing. We take pride in these games and we come out really hard.”
Mikael Frolik had a short-handed goal in the first for Calgary.
Laurent Brossoit made 29 saves for Edmonton, including a blocker save on Gaudreau’s attempt to tie it on a 2-on-1 break. The Flames also failed to capitalize on a power play with six minutes left.
”Our resilience right now is really good. Other than tonight, we’ve been down in every game for the past three and the way we fought back has been a really good sign for us. It’s something we did really well last year,” Nugent-Hopkins said.
Mike Smith stopped 22 shots for Calgary through two periods before giving way to David Rittich, who stopped four of the six shots he faced in the third.
The 19-year-old Puljujarvi opened the scoring 10:29 into the first when the puck caromed to him off the end boards after Drake Caggiula missed the net on his slap shot.
Four minutes later, Eric Gryba’s shot went through the holder of Mark Giordano’s skate then changed directions again off Puljujarvi’s leg before trickling through Smith’s pads to make it 2-0.
”I’ve never seen it before in this league or any league that I’ve been in. It goes through the skate blade,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. ”We’ve got to deal with that better. There are bounces that are going to happen. We have to react to those things better.”
Puljujarvi spent the first five weeks of the season in the AHL before being called up from Bakersfield on Nov. 10. He had been a healthy scratch in back-to-back games before playing Thursday against Toronto and leading the team with seven shots.
It looked like the Flames were on the verge of getting back into the game when Mikael Backlund set up Frolik with 3:39 left in the first. However, just 1:23 later, Khaira converted Kris Russell’s pass to restore the Oilers’ two-goal lead.
”We started the game too hesitant,” Bennett said. ”We were just dipping our toes in the water and we didn’t go after it.”
Edmonton surged in front 4-1 at 3:40 of the second when Letestu scored on a short-handed breakaway. It was the first of three second period breakaways for the Oilers. While Smith stopped the other two, the Oilers extended their lead to 5-1 on Lucic’s deflection with 22 seconds remaining in the middle period.
Rittich’s appearance didn’t start well as a miscommunication behind the net resulted in an easy wraparound goal for Maroon that proved to be the winner.
NOTES: Edmonton has outscored Calgary 31-16 during its winning streak in the series. … Oilers coach Todd McLellan got his 400th NHL win, becoming the 38th to reach that milestone. … Mike Cammalleri returned to the Oilers’ lineup after being a healthy scratch on Thursday. Anton Slepyshev sat out. … Calgary RW Troy Brouwer has gone 32 games without a goal, dating back to March 27. … Edmonton entered the game first in the NHL with 749 hits and had nine against the Flames, who had 14.
Oilers: Host Philadelphia on Wednesday night before a three-game trip.
Flames: Host Philadelphia on Monday night to wrap a four-game homestand.