The Oilers and Calgary Flames took part in a split-squad pair of pre-season games on Monday night. Here are five things of note from the game in Calgary, which the Oilers won 3-1.
1. GOALIE WATCH
Two of the goaltenders competing for a roster spot in Edmonton were on the ice in Calgary on Monday night and they both performed well. Ben Scrivens started the game and was replaced later by Anders Nilsson.
Scrivens took a Dougie Hamilton shot off the head late in the first period, which knocked his mask clean off. The goaltender hung in there to not only finish the first, but return for the second. He finished his night with 12 saves on 13 shots. His lone goal allowed came from Michael Frolik on the power play.
Nilsson replaced Scrivens at 9:07 of the second period. He made a couple huge saves near the end of the period, including one on a penalty shot. He finished his night with 17 saves on 17 shots.
2. GETTING GREASY
They don’t all have to be pretty. Mark Letestu’s goal got the Oilers on the board at 6:55 of the second period. It came from persistent hacking and poking at the loose puck at the post. Letestu eventually got it in under the pad of Jonas Hiller to tie the game at 1-1.
The goal was a huge response score for the Oilers, who had been scored on 48 seconds prior. Lauri Korpikoski and Matt Hendricks, combined with Letestu, make for a line that can kill penalties, play well defensively and possibly get a handful of greasy goals for the Oilers.
Letestu attributed that goal to Korpikoski going hard to the net.
3. NURSE & SMITH TANGO
Hunter Smith grabbed Darnell Nurse and convinced him to drop the gloves in the second period. The two big 20-year-old prospects put on a show for those in attendance in Calgary. It was a pretty even fight with both landing a couple blows. Nurse landed a few good ones and bloodied Smith’s visor.
Probably the most impressive part for Nurse was how he stuck his long arm out and held Smith at bay. The Oilers prospect showed his strength and then proceeded to hold his own against his 6-foot-7, 208-pound opponent. The players in the room said Nurse’s fight gave them some energy and was a big part of the win. Letestu called it “the turning point.”
This scrap was likely provoked by Nurse’s fight with Flames prospect Rasmus Andersson at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, B.C. some days ago.
We called the fight a draw in the press box, but you be the judge.
4. YOUNG DEFENCE HOLDS ITS OWN
The Oilers brought some youth on the backend to Calgary and, considering the firepower on the other bench, the low score and the winning result are things the team is very happy with.
Coach Jay Woodcroft spoke after the game and both he and Letestu said Nurse’s fight sparked the team. Nurse’s “pushback” helped the team gain the victory, but it wasn’t just the scrap that stuck out. Woodcroft was happy with Nurse’s overall play, as well as the play of other young blueliners like Griffin Reinhart and Joey LaLeggia.
“I don’t think Nurse’s game just came down to that fight,” said Woodcroft. “I thought he was very good on retrievals. He had some poise in the d-zone. He made some good passes, so he was great for us tonight. As well as LaLeggia did well, Reinhart did well. We liked our group. All 20 players contributed to the win, we liked our backend and we liked our goaltending and we had real quality shifts from all four lines.”
5. EARLY CHEMISTRY
It’s always nice to see one of your top lines get going early in pre-season. Jordan Eberle and Benoit Pouliot showed chemistry in their first game. Eberle set Pouliot up nicely on a 2-on-1 for the game-winning goal at 17:08 of the third period.
Eberle finished the game +2 with two assists and three shots on goal in 18:00 of ice time. Pouliot had that goal and two shots in 17:56. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finished the game +2 with an assist, two shots on goal and a blocked shot in 20:26, leading all forwards in ice time.