A third-period fightback from the Oilers spurred on by two assists from Joakim Nygard and goals from Gaetan Haas and Zack Kassian ends in defeat
CALGARY, AB - Roll on, regular season.
Joakim Nygard did his part in a 31-second span of the third period, along with Gaetan Haas and Zack Kassian, of erasing a two-goal deficit against the Flames before Tobias Rieder stopped the tide of offence with his second goal of the contest and the game-winner in the Oilers final pre-season bout.
The Oilers begin their regular-season campaign at Rogers Place on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks. The game can be seen on Sportsnet West and 360 and heard live on 630CHED. Puck drop is at 7:08 PM MST.
The speedy Nygard notched two assists in quick succession on goals from Haas and Kassian after former Oilers in Rieder and Milan Lucic scored against their former club in the middle frame, with the latter notching the winner with 5:39 left in the contest.
Defenceman Ethan Bear added another assist to his total to cap off a successful pre-season campaign for the Ochapowace, Saskatoon product.
Flames goaltender David Rittich did his part in goal for the Flames, making 26 saves on 28 shots to outduel his counterpart Mikko Koskinen at the other end who made 19 saves on 22 attempts.
Failing to muster any notable offence until their backs were against the wall proved costly for the Oilers as the club could only muster three shots in the first period before outshooting the Flames 16-3 in the final frame.
"I thought we showed a good fight in the third period," forward Sam Gagner said post-game. "It was one of those games in the middle of it where we couldn't generate anything. It's important for us to push forward, and I thought we did a good job of that in the third to come back and tie it before it slipped away."
In a game with plenty to play for in terms of securing spots on Wednesday's opening-night roster for the likes of Haas and Nygard, both were able to help swing the momentum and leave the team's pre-season shortcoming with individual success.
"I think the third period was pretty good - created some passes and our line scored two goals," Nygard said. "I think we came into their zone well, but we looked for passes all the time. We talked about it after the first period that we need to take shots and take it from there.
"I thought we did that better in the third, but we have to shoot more."
Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett commented on the pair's strong play, referring to the game as a standout performance for both.
"(Nygard) was very good tonight," Tippett said. "Quick on pucks, tenacity, real strong tonight. Haas, it was the best game by a mile he's played here. We'll evaluate. We're going to meet tomorrow and we'll see where everything gets to."
As the dust settles on pre-season, the bench boss has a couple of key personnel decisions ahead of him after mentioning pre-game that tonight would be the final opportunity for a handful of players vying for one or two roster spots to impress.
"Exhibition's over. We start anew on Monday," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We found out a lot about our team in the last few weeks, so we know where we stand and we know the people we think will fit with our club. Now we'll just mould it together and get going."
It's all meaningful hockey ahead now as the Oilers begin their '19-20 NHL regular-season schedule at Rogers Place on Wednesday against the Vancouver Canucks.