The Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday at 5 p.m. MDT for their last game at Rexall Place. The game can be seen on CBC and Sportsnet, or heard on 630 CHED and the Oilers Radio Network.
EDMONTON, AB – “I don’t think there’s a number big enough or how to describe how disappointing that effort is.”
The night didn’t go the way the Oilers had hoped. With the team moving downtown to Rogers Place in the fall, Edmonton was closing out the Battle of Alberta’s run at Rexall Place. This one went the way of the visiting Calgary Flames, who spoiled the moment for the home team and took a 5-0 victory.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan expressed his frustration with the effort of his club.
“We’ve been together for 200 days and have talked a lot about competing and working hard and holding your hand and showing up, and we get that,” said McLellan. “That’s the exact crap we’re trying to eradicate from this group. So, you work hard and you climb and you climb and at least you get some foundation in and you give it all back in one night?… At least, we know where we need to go in practice because we need to establish a work ethic this week.”
Mikael Backlund and Johnny Gaudreau scored two goals each, spurring the Flames to victory.
The Oilers home crowd was into it at the start. They were fired up when winger Jordan Eberle drew a TJ Brodie tripping penalty 3:19 into the first period. Unfortunately, the power play backfired on the Oilers when Backlund scored on a shorthanded 2-on-1 rush at 3:51. Josh Jooris and Deryk Engelland each recorded an assist.
The emotions of it being the final Battle of Alberta at Rexall Place was not lost on those in attendance as the atmosphere reached new peaks midway through the first. Edmonton had phenomenal back-to-back shifts, pressuring the Flames all over their zone. By the end of the onslaught, the Oilers were outshooting the Flames 9-2 and those in attendance were foaming at the mouth in anticipation of the equalizer.
The equalizer would never come, though, as Joni Ortio made 28 saves and the Flames ruined what the Oilers had hoped would be a fitting close to the series in the old barn.
“Until we decide we’re going to be physically and mentally invested for a full 60 instead of starting good or finishing good, we’re going to get results like this,” said Oilers centre Mark Letestu. “We were nowhere near sharp enough. There’s no excuses with the time we had off. We should have been going. Even if you do give up a shorty early, adversity happens. Stuff happens. You’ve got to be able to bounce back. We weren’t able to do it as a group. It’s beyond disappointing. Frustrating.”
The Flames almost went up 2-0 with 1:36 left in the opening frame. However, Joe Colborne interfered with Oilers goalie Cam Talbot. A coach’s challenge erased the goal and kept the score 1-0 heading into the first intermission.
Following a big penalty kill for Edmonton in the second period, the Oilers logged some zone time in the other end. Zack Kassian rocketed a pass into the slot and Andrej Sekera snapped a shot on net. Ortio flashed the glove, stopping the Oilers blueliner.
The Flames went up 2-0 at 15:13 of the middle frame. Backlund threw a pass backdoor and Colborne put it past Talbot. Jyrki Jokipkka had the second assist, setting up Backlund from the slot.
The Oilers responded with a beautiful passing display, but Patrick Maroon couldn’t bury the chance as Ortio made a big-time stop on the big winger.
It looked like Talbot stopped the puck at the post following a flurry of shots 3:11 into the third period, but it trickled behind the netminder to make it 3-0 for the Flames. Gaudeau was the goal scorer, while Micheal Ferland and Sean Monahan each recorded assists.
Gaudreau scored his second of the night, taking the puck to the net and sliding it just past the post and the outstretched Talbot. The power-play goal at 7:21 of the final frame put a stamp on the Oilers fate.
Backlund dug the Oilers a deeper hole, scoring at 12:35 of the third. He beat a diving Talbot high on a breakaway as a Flames penalty expired to make it 5-0.
The Oilers host the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday at 5 p.m. for their final home game at Rexall Place. A better effort is “damned important” for the Oilers, according to their head coach.
“Damn, damn important that there’s an effort,” he said. “Forget about the win and the loss, just the effort. That’s frickin embarrassing.”
The Oilers have a mandatory off day tomorrow, but return to the ice for practice the following day.