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RECAP: Flames 2 at Oilers 4

An insurance goal from Oilers forward Kris Versteeg saw Edmonton produce a 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames in their pre-season opener at Rogers Place

by Meg Tilley / EdmontonOilers.com

EDMONTON, AB - Though it was a rocky start to the pre-season, the Oilers welcomed the first Battle of Alberta game at Rogers Place, capping off the night with a 4-2 win over the Calgary Flames.  

Two minutes into the first period, Flames forward Freddie Hamilton received two minutes for delay of game after the puck flipped over the boards. Less than a minute later, Oilers forward Jujhar Khaira received a two-minute penalty for too many men on the ice. 

The teams were able to finally find momentum with play continuing to cycle consistently throughout the first half of the period, following the two penalties. As the Oilers advanced into the Flames defensive zone, forward Iiro Pakarinen crashed the net to produce the first goal of the game and first Oilers goal at Rogers Place. 

But the celebrations were short-lived when Flames defenceman Kenney Morrison responded quickly to net the equalizer. Two minutes later, a bad bounce of the puck shot by Hamilton trickled by the pad of Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot as Calgary took a 2-1 lead. 

With less than three minutes remaining in the second, Beck made an advance on the Oilers net but lost his footing when Flames defenceman Rasmus Anderson pulled up alongside him.

After 40 minutes of play, a lone goal from Pakarinen midway through the opening frame was all that remained as the Oilers trailed 2-1. But the third period produced a much different outcome as the play grew more intense and the Oilers continued to advance.

At 16:36, Larsson dropped a pass to Oilers defenceman Matthew Benning who rocketed a shot from below the blueline that was tipped in by forward Ryan Vesce to even the score 2-2. 

Two minutes later, Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom advanced into the Flames defensive zone, producing the puck and dishing it out in front of the Flames net. Oilers forward Tyler Pitlick followed up, tapping past Calgary goaltender Jon Gillies for the 3-2 lead.

"I thought Klef got much better as the game went on," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "You could tell that he hadn't played for a little while, but he kind of got aggressive halfway through the game, made plays, jumped in, got a shot through, broke out cleaner."

Originally, Pitlick wasn't slotted in either lineup for tonight's split-squad game. It was a last minute substitute that saw him step in for Oilers forward Benoit Pouliot, who was removed from the lineup due to illness. 

"I thought there was a group of players that had to have good games tonight and they had good games tonight," said McLellan. "You look at Pitlick, he would be one of them. He played." 

Sometimes that happens, you aren't scheduled to play and someone gets sick and you go in and you have a hell of a game. And he did that. In this case, he penalty killed, he did a great job along the boards, he set up plays around the net, managed the game well, I was quite impressed with his play. I thought that whole line of guys, had an impact in the game every time they were out on the ice." 

With less than four minutes remaining in the game, Pitlick backhanded the puck to Oilers forward Kris Versteeg, who cruised out in front of the net, flipping the puck over Gillies blocker for an insurance goal and the Oilers 4-2 win. 

"It was a starting point," admitted Versteeg. "First exhibition game, a little bit of rust, I think as you go on throughout the game you start to find your game a little bit more and more. For myself, you've got to get in there and try and make an impression without going and doing too much, so today was just about getting out the rust and getting ready for a game again.

"[Pitlick] had a heck of a night. He wasn't supposed to go and then he gets in the lineup - that's how you make teams - and he really proved tonight that he wants to be here. He had a heck of a night, I was proud of him, he's a good kid and he made a heck of a play on that goal." 

Edmonton continues the pre-season on Wednesday when they visit the Vancouver Canucks. 

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