CALGARY — After a stunning bonanza of goals in their series opener, the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers are plotting how to limit each other's output in Friday's second game.
Easier said than done with each side boasting the most prolific scorers in the NHL.
A combined 15 goals in Calgary's 9-6 win in Game 1 at the Saddledome made for a wild start to their best-of-seven Western Conference semifinal.
Following Friday's Game 2 in Calgary, the series heads to Edmonton for Sunday's Game 3 and Tuesday's Game 4.
Calgary up 5-1 and 6-2 in Wednesday's second period, and Edmonton tying the game 6-6 early in the third only to give up the lead again reflected erratic goaltending and an abandonment of defence.
Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft quickly suppressed speculation over his starting goaltender Thursday by indicating Mike Smith would get the nod again in Game 2
Smith was yanked at 6:05 after allowing three goals on two shots, including two in the first minute. Reliever Mikko Koskinen gave up five more on 32 shots.
"It's not a great perspective to be on the bench nine minutes into a hockey game in the playoffs, but saying that, it's one game," Smith said Thursday.
"If they won it 2-1 or 9-6, it's still one win and you've got to win four. It's about regrouping now and not letting that effect the rest of the series, moving on and focusing on Game 2."
Goaltending issues extended to the other end of the ice.
After a solid, and at times heroic, first-round series against the Dallas Stars, Jacob Markstrom gave up some goals to the Oilers, who scored six even-strength goals on 22 shots, that Calgary's goalie wanted back.
"The guys were great in front of me. I've got to be better," Markstrom said. "Everyone knows that. Myself included.
"To have a game like that in the playoffs and still come out with a win, that's a good feeling. The guys definitely bailed me out.
"We got the win. We're up one nothing, but it's going to be tough. I need to raise my game, and you've just got to bear down and see what you need to feel better and play better and get it done."
Oilers captain Connor McDavid was the primary reason the Flames couldn't put the Oilers down. He was pivotal in creating Edmonton's fifth goal late in the second and the tying goal early in the third on his four-point night.
McDavid led the Oilers in ice time (25:33), hits (5) and had a goal and three assists.
The Art Ross Trophy winner as the NHL's top points man in the regular season also leads the playoffs with five goals and 13 assists in eight games.
"He's the best player in the league and the best player on the ice last night," Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said. "At the end of the series, if Connor McDavid gets four points a game, have a good next series Connor."
Containment of McDavid is a tall order when he has the puck on his stick, the Flames need to be more responsible with the puck to keep it away from him, Sutter said.
"It sounds crazy because you scored nine goals, but our passing and our shooting and our skill execution was very sloppy," he said.
Calgary nevertheless won the first round of the Battle of Alberta and outshot the Oilers 48-28.
The Flames got primary production out of its top line of Matthew Tkachuk, Elias Lindholm and Johnny Gaudreau, as well as secondary scoring from Blake Coleman, Brett Ritchie and Andrew Mangiapane.
Gaudreau, who tied for second in NHL regular-season points behind McDavid, assisted on three goals Wednesday.
Tkachuk, who scored a hat trick in Game 1, Lindholm and Gaudreau were all 40-goal scorers in the regular season.
"We hung six goals on their starting goaltender in their building," Woodcroft said. "There's things we have to do better to take care of our own end."
Sutter was named a finalist Thursday for the Jack Adams Trophy that goes to the season's top NHL coach. He's the third Flame to gain a nomination for a major award.
Markstrom is a Vézina Trophy nominee and Lindholm is a finalist for the Selke Trophy that goes to the best defensive forward.
Notes: McDavid became the fifth NHL player to record seven multi-point playoff games in his team's first eight joining Darryl Sittler (Toronto, 1977), Tony Currie (St. Louis, 1981), Denis Savard (Chicago, 1985), Glenn Anderson (Edmonton, 1987) … One more playoff victory ranks Sutter sixth all-time among head coaches with 95.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 19, 2022.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press