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Oilers keep rolling with 4-2 victory over reeling Flames

Led by a clutch power play and 33 saves from Calvin Pickard, Edmonton inched closer to top spot in the NHL’s Pacific Division on Saturday.

Evan Bouchard scored the go-ahead goal 10:36 into the third period as the Oilers kept on rolling with a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames.

“We played well in the third period and our power play came up with a huge goal at the end,” said Edmonton coach Kris Knoblauch. “(Pickard) was outstanding. I thought he made huge saves, especially late in the game with the goalie pulled, game on the line, he came up big.”

Combined with Vancouver’s 6-3 loss in Los Angeles, Edmonton has climbed within three points of the Canucks for top spot in the Pacific Division. They also hold one game in hand.

Including a 6-2 victory over Colorado on Friday night, the Oilers got the response they wanted after a 5-0 drubbing at the hands of Dallas on Wednesday.

“Obviously we have a boatload of character in this room,” said Pickard, who improved to 12-6-0. “We wanted to have a big response after the Dallas game and we did that. 

“Not the easiest schedule with back-to-backs and Calgary sitting here waiting for us.”

Edmonton centre Derek Ryan says the past four days have typified his club’s season.

“That’s a microcosm of our whole season. With the start that we had and the character in this room, we were able to bounce back from that,” Ryan said. “There were a lot of people in Edmonton, a lot of people standing around me right now that were writing us off, and look at us now.”

Leon Draisaitl, with his 40th goal, Connor Brown and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, with an empty-net goal and two assists, also scored for Edmonton (47-24-5), which is 5-1-1 in its last seven games.

It’s Draisaitl’s third straight 40-goal season and fifth of his career, which is third in franchise history behind Jari Kurri (seven) and Wayne Gretzky (nine).

“It’s nice that we’re getting some depth scoring,” said Knoblauch. “Last night it was (Evander) Kane, (Corey) Perry, (Ryan) McLeod line that came up with three goals. Tonight, Brown with a huge goal. Those lines have been playing pretty good, especially that fourth line.”

Yegor Sharangovich and Nazem Kadri replied for Calgary (34-37-5). Andrei Kuzmenko extended his point streak to five games (four goals, five assists) with two assists.

Jacob Markstrom had 23 stops, falling to 23-21-2.

“We battled hard, I thought we deserved better tonight,” said Flames left-winger Jonathan Huberdeau. “It just shows that they have a good power play and they took advantage of that and we came up short. But I thought we were the better team tonight.”

Down 2-1 headed to the third period, Kadri tied it on a deflection at 7:13, but with the man advantage just over three minutes later, Bouchard’s blast from the blue line restored the lead.

Connor McDavid drew an assist on the play, giving him two on the night and a career-high 99 on the season, surpassing his previous high of 97 from last year.

It’s the most assists in an NHL season since Gretzky had 122 in 1990-91. McDavid is on the cusp of becoming just the fourth player to have 100 assists in a season. He’d join Gretzky (11 times), Mario Lemieux (one) and Bobby Orr (one).

Up 1-0 after 20 minutes, Edmonton doubled its advantage 3:13 into the second period when Brown fired in a loose puck after a squandered 2-on-1. After not scoring in his first 54 games, Brown has scored four times in his last 11.

The two-goal lead lasted only 44 seconds, though, with Sharangovich scoring his 30th of the season on a power play.

“It’s a little bit of a tough loss. We could win this game. We had an opportunity to score more goals,” said Sharangovich.

Calgary has lost eight of its last nine games but played its provincial rival tough, often carrying the play.

Both teams finished 2-for-6 with the extra man.

“It’s not easy, obviously, in the position we’re in. But the guys are showing up and it’s good to see,” said Huberdeau.


Oilers: Open a four-game homestand on Wednesday against the Vegas Golden Knights.

Flames: Kickoff a three-game road trip against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2024.

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