Drake Caggiula scored twice and Kailer Yamamoto potted a goal in his pre-season debut as Edmonton beat the Flames 5-4 in Calgary
CALGARY, AB - Things got off to a hurry for the Oilers split-squad group down in Calgary on Monday night and it was a two-goal performance from forward Drake Caggiula and an impressive game-winning goal from newly-drafted Kailer Yamamoto that would lift the Oilers to the 5-4 decision at the Saddledome.
Edmonton visits Winnipeg on Wednesday. Game time is 6:00 PM MDT and it can be seen on EdmontonOilers.com within the Oilers Region.
A wide-open first period saw its opening tally off the stick of Flames forward Sean Monahan who rifled a wrister over the shoulder of Laurent Brossoit at 1:01 of the opening frame.
The Oilers quickly countered as it was minutes later that saw the equalizer. An even-strength point shot from d-man Adam Larsson snuck through a crowd where a waiting Drake Caggiula managed a tip that trickled through goaltender Mike Smith's five-hole to tie things up at 5:24 in the first. It was the start of a solid night for the 23-year-old sophomore winger, who's looking to build on a solid rookie campaign with the Oilers.
"Anytime you can get confidence, whether it's early in the pre-season or early in the season, It's definitely good to get it going and get off on the right foot," said Caggiula.
The offensive contributions from the backend continued early on when defensive newcomer Yohann Auvitu jumped on the rush during four-on-four play and fired a slapper from the left wing that snuck by Smith on the far side at 10:08 to make it 2-1 Edmonton.
Auvitu, an off-season free-agent signing, saw his first NHL action last season with the New Jersey Devils, where he managed to post two goals and add two assists in 25 games played with the big club. On Monday night he was quick to show off some offensive instincts in his first appearance in Oilers silks. The five-foot-eleven, 191-pound native of France is in the pre-season mix to help bolster Edmonton's blueline as they embark on 2017-18 without defenceman Andrej Sekera's services for the first few months as he recovers from a torn ACL and helped his cause with a solid preseason debut.
Jujhar Khaira continued his strong showing at Oilers camp when he gave the Oilers the 3-1 lead at 3:35 of the middle frame on a sharp-angle wrister from the right side. Khaira is looking for full-time work with the big club this season and continued to make his case with a solid pre-season performance.
In true Battle of Alberta fashion, the matchup wasn't without its chippy play. Shortly after Khaira's goal, Flames d-man Mark Giordano hooked Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl, who in turn leveled the Calgary captain with an open-ice hit. Both parties would go to the box for hooking and interference respectively.
Moments later, Calgary would send another man to the box giving the Oilers the 4-on-3 advantage where they would make no mistake. After some solid cycling, a rebound found Caggiula wide open in front where he would bury it for his second on the night to give Edmonton the 4-1 edge.
The midway mark of the second saw goalie swaps on both sides, bringing in Nick Ellis for the Oilers and Jon Gillies for the Flames. Brossoit would leave the game having turned aside 12 of 13 shots. His Calgary counterpart Smith allowed four goals on 13 shots in just under 30 minutes.
It was the Flames who struck next as d-man Dougie Hamilton beat Ellis up high to draw Calgary within two at 9:10 of the second period.
Calgary looked poised to get their third of the night when Andrew Mangiapane was sprung loose late in the middle frame but a sprawling poke check by Ellis thwarted the breakaway attempt and the Oilers kept their two-goal cushion heading into the final 20 minutes of play.
The third period saw the Oilers quickly restore their three-goal cushion on some impressive stickhandling in-tight followed by a top-shelf tally at 1:50 by Oilers 2017 first-rounder Kailer Yamamoto in his NHL pre-season debut, one he will surely remember.
"I didn't even know the puck went in but I saw the guys celebrating. So I was in a little bit of shock but it was an awesome feeling," said Yamamoto of his game-winner.
The Flames wouldn't go down easy, though, as TJ Brodie added another for the Flames at 4:31 of the final frame to make it 5-3. It seemed as if they had added another on the power play minutes later, but the goal was waved off immediately on the ice.
The Flames did convert on their late-game push at 19:06 of the third on a tally from Dillon Dube to pull within one, but the Oilers would weather the storm and hang on for the 5-4 victory. Oilers head coach for the Calgary group Jay Woodcroft was impressed with the squad up against a fairly experienced Calgary team on the other side.
"I thought we focused on the things we could control tonight: our effort and our energy level," said Woodcroft
Caggiula's offensive output did not go unnoticed by his coach either.
"I think we've only hit the tip of the iceberg in terms of his offensive game. I think Todd (McLellan) uses the term 'swiss-army knife' when he discusses Drake because he's so versatile."
The Oilers will reconvene for their next pre-season matchup on Wednesday night in Winnipeg.