Evander Kane had a goal and two assists as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the rival Calgary Flames 5-2 in the Heritage Classic outdoor game at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton on Sunday in a battle between two teams that have had less than stellar starts to their NHL seasons.
Brett Kulak, Zach Hyman, Evan Bouchard and Vincent Desharnais also scored for the Oilers (2-5-1) who snapped a four-game losing skid.
A.J. Greer and Nazem Kadri replied for the Flames (2-6-1), who have now lost five games in a row.
It was much warmer (3 Celsius at puck drop) than at the original Heritage Classic 20 years ago which reached -30 C with the wind chill in 2003, much to the relief of Edmonton fans.
Those same fans were also pleased when Edmonton started the scoring four minutes into the opening period as Flames’ netminder Jacob Markstrom allowed a big rebound on an opportunity by Kane and defender Kulak was down deep to sweep in a backhand shot.
Edmonton made it 2-0 midway through the first period right after killing a two-man disadvantage as Leon Draisaitl came out of the box and waited for Hyman to catch up on a two-on-one before dishing it to him for his third goal of the season.
Calgary got one back with five minutes to play in the first frame and just one second remaining on yet another two-man advantage as a high Kadri shot deflected off of goalie Stuart Skinner’s blocker and into the net. It was Kadri’s first goal of the campaign.
Edmonton regained its two-goal cushion a minute later as Bouchard scored on a long slap shot through traffic. Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who was a game-time decision to return from injury, picked up an assist to extend his home scoring streak to 24 games.
Calgary got another power-play goal 8 1/2 minutes into the second period as Mackenzie Weegar split the defence for a point-blank shot, with the rebound deposited by Greer.
Edmonton got a big goal six minutes into the final frame as a Desharnais point shot took a high bounce off of the ice and past Markstrom.
The Oilers put the game away for good in the final minute on an empty-netter by Kane, his second of the season.
The 2023 Heritage Classic marked the 20th anniversary of the NHL’s first regular-season outdoor game in the modern era, held in front of 55,411 fans who braved frigid conditions with wind chill temperatures reaching -30 Celsius on Nov. 22, 2003, to watch the Montreal Canadiens defeat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 at Commonwealth Stadium.
There have been 36 NHL outdoor games since. Sunday was the third outdoor game for each franchise.
Edmonton was the visiting team at the 2016 Heritage Classic at Investors Group Field in Winnipeg, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 3-0.
Calgary hosted the 2011 Classic and defeated Montreal 4-0 in 2011.
The Flames lost 2-1 in overtime to the Jets in the 2019 Heritage Classic in Regina, Sask.
Calgary forward Kadri took part in his fifth outdoor NHL game.
The 2003 Heritage Classic was declared a sellout by the NHL with an announced attendance of 55,411.
The Calgary Flames return home to take on the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. The Stars then head to Edmonton to face the Oilers on Thursday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2023
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