The Oilers conceded 11 seconds into the contest as they were handed a 5-1 defeat to their provincial rivals in the first Battle of Alberta of the season on Friday
EDMONTON, AB - In the experiences of Head Coach Dave Tippett verbalized following this morning's pre-game skate, the first game after the holiday break is usually a sloppy afair.
The Oilers caught their breath over the holidays, but had the wind knocked out of them early on Friday in a 5-1 loss to their provincial rivals at Rogers Place after three days off for Christmas and waiting almost three months for this season's first Battle of Alberta.
"There was concern this morning, and the game started just like that," Tippett said post-game. "We addressed it in practice to try and be ready, but it wasn't enough."
Early energy and preparedness would be critical for both the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, and Andrew Mangiapane found the back of the net 11 seconds in for the Flames after finding himself on the end of an Oilers turnover in their own zone that dealt the hosts an early blow.
"I think everyone showed up with the mindset of trying to get going off the hop, but it didn't happen," defenceman Darnell Nurse, who posted an assist, said. "We have to start better, first and foremost, and it starts next game."
The Calgary winger provided the assist on Matthew Tkachuk's tally with 9:21 to go in the opening period before the turkey legs of the Oilers were given time to be shaken off from the holidays.
After captain Connor McDavid halved the deficit with his 22nd goal of the season before the intermission from a deft deflection in the slot following his faceoff win and a point shot from Nurse, the Oilers had themselves room to work themselves back into their provincial tilt.
But another early goal for Calgary from Sean Monahan 1:08 into the second period closed off those avenues before Elias Lindholm made it 4-1 after 40 minutes.
Goaltender Mike Smith's return to face his old club didn't come in the best circumstances, as he replaced Mikko Koskinen in the second frame after the Finnish netminder made 20 saves on 24 shots.
The Oilers power play went 0-for-2, with a shorthanded goal from Mikael Backlund capping off a forgettable night for the Blue & Orange in the first of five Battle of Alberta's to be played in the club's final 41 games.
The Oilers and Flames came into tonight's battle separated by one point in the Pacific Division standings, adding more fuel to the fire of one of hockey's most heated rivalries.
"It's big," McDavid said of the dropped points to a rival. "Divisional games are big, especially when they're a team that's right there with you. So tonight was the first one, and we have plenty of cracks at them and lots of chances to get it back."
After going 7-2-1 in their first 10 home games of the campaign, the Oilers have faltered on home ice to a tune of 2-6-2 in their last 10 and been outscored 42-23 over that span.
"We've shown at different points of the season what we're capable of," Nurse said. "We just have to pull it back out. We know we need to be better but it all starts with our work and our habits because that's been getting us into trouble.
The Oilers have three days off before entertaining the New York Rangers on New Year's Eve.