EDMONTON, AB -
Sean Monahan scored twice as the Calgary Flames, for the second time this season, beat the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 2-1 in overtime.
“I think we always talk about Mony’s progression from day one and from training camp on, it seems that he’s getting stronger and stronger,” Flames Head Coach Bob Hartley said. “I feel that, since the break, there’s even more pop to his skating. Remember that he had the broken leg and we got him going right away. It’s not that he didn’t skate well before, but I feel that the break really helped him. I see, not a big different player, but there’s one more gear to his game and he gave us two big goals.”
Ales Hemsky drew top-line action in this game, filling in for the injured Nail Yakupov. Hemsky took advantage of the higher spot of the depth chart early with a scoring chance, as Taylor Hall found his new linemate backdoor with a perfect pass. Hemsky collided with Mark Giordano and couldn’t convert after crashing hard towards the net.
“It definitely wasn’t our best,” Jordan Eberle said. “We gave them a lot of odd-man rushes and, for the most part, they had late guys coming in and they were getting chances there. We found a way to battle back and get a point but, at the end of the day, you’ve got to be frustrated when you’re only putting up one every night. But on the positive side, we’re defending well. Like I said, we battled back and got the point but you’ve got to still be disappointed.”
Flames rookie sensation Sean Monahan would open up the scoring at 10:15 of the first period with his team-leading 17th goal of the season and second this year against Edmonton. Monahan spun around in the slot and flipped a rebound on net, up over Ilya Bryzgalov, to give Calgary the 1-0 lead.
Oilers Luke Gazdic and Flames Kevin Westgarth immediately squared off at centre ice for a fight, following the goal. Gazdic knocked Westgarth out cold with a heavy right. It was a scary scene for the 30-year-old Calgary winger who had difficulty skating off the ice. He was helped off by two players and then walked to the locker room with assistance from the trainers.
“With the concussion I had, it’s really hard to see a guy go down like that,” David Perron said. “As much as, obviously, Gazzy is just doing his job, and we all know that and they know that over there, for me it’s kind of hard to get up after that. It kind of slowed me down because it was bringing back memories of what I had. But again, Gazzy is fighting for a job in this league and he’s just doing what he’s… he’s trying his best for us. I don’t even think he’s doing it for himself, he’s doing it for the team. Good fight obviously, for him.”
Gazdic is making a name for himself in the fighting ranks of the NHL. He has been involved in 13 fights this season, showing well for a rookie in a physical role.
“Luke’s game has improved greatly this year,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “He’s a big part of our team… I’ll admit, I love a good fight but to see Kevin laying on the ice like that, I don’t like that. That’s a disturbing thing for me and you never like to see a guy trying to get off the ice like that. But that’s the danger of those fights… Luke seems to be catching guys almost every time now, maybe not that drastic but the guy is falling out of the fight because he’s been tagged in the right spot. Luke’s doing an excellent job in his roll. He’s improving as a hockey player and his skill set and I personally, certainly hope that Westgarth is okay because that disturbed me.”
Jordan Eberle could have got the equalizer with about 12 minutes remaining, but his close-range wrister went up over the crossbar.
David Perron, who set up Eberle on that earlier chance, was the one who would score the equalizer. Perron dug the puck out from the boards and fired a wrister from the face-off dot, sinking it high, glove side of Reto Berra at 9:43 of the third period. Perron’s goal was his 23rd of the season, good for a team high, while Eberle and Sam Gagner earned the assists.
“We’re just trying to play our game,” Perron said. “I’ve said it many times this year, (no matter) where we’re at in the standings, I don’t think we should focus on the other team at all. It’s all about us. When we play the right way, do the right things, we have success and we saw some flashes of it tonight.”
Perron’s game-tying goal would be enough to send the game to overtime.
“It’s one goal in two games,” Perron said. “I don’t know if we can build on that. We had some good chances, we had some good parts of the game but we got out-battled a few times and the same thing on that last goal there.”
Eberle said that after Perron’s goal, the Oilers picked up the pressure but it wasn’t enough.
“Anytime you’re on a little bit of a drought as a team and you get one, it kind of just ignites the guys,” Eberle said. “When you haven’t scored in a while, doubt starts to creep in. Obviously, (Perron) scores and we played with definitely a little more energy. That’s definitely a positive. You salvage a point but, at the end of the day, you’ve still got to be disappointed. I definitely don’t think it was our best.”
Monahan scored his second goal of the game, 1:50 into the overtime period to lift the Flames over the Oilers in this Battle of Alberta showdown.