. - Leon Draisaitl nearly brought the house down when he gave the Oilers Rookies their first lead of the night on a penalty shot in the third, and that tally eventually proved to be the game-winner with Edmonton completing the 6-3 comeback win over Calgary.
“My dad always told me to be a big-time player when the game is on the line,” said Draisaitl. “I think that’s what everybody wants to be and that’s the same with me. When the game is on the line I want to be at my best. I want to produce and help the team win. I think today it was a good thing for me to be able to do that.”
Hunter Smith finished off a nice Pavel Karnaukhov pass from behind the goal line at 13:53 of the first period to open scoring. Smith was taken 54th overall in 2014 by the Flames.
Andrew Mangiapane made it 2-0 Calgary at 15:24 of the opening frame when he took a centring feed from Bill Arnold and scored from the slot.
The Flames dominated the shot count in the first period with 20 to Edmonton’s 11.
Karnaukhov’s tripping penalty and Darnell Nurse’s roughing call made it 4-on-4 hockey early in the second period.
Oilers forward Kyle Platzer sauced a pass across the ice and Josh Winquist roofed it top shelf to make it a 2-1 game.
Calgary answered back when Rihard Bukarts took a hooking call and gave them a man advantage. Arnold scored from the side of the net to make it 3-1 Flames at 4:15 of the middle frame.
The Oilers cut the lead down again and have Ben Betker to thank for the opportunity. The Oilers defenceman goaded Bryce Van Brabant into taking an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty at 16:47 of the second. Platzer earned his second assist of the game, setting up defenceman Joey LaLeggia who shot the puck through traffic and found twine at 17:48, on the power play.
The Oilers tied the game up in the third. Braden Christoffer drew a penalty at 5:14 and then promptly potted the tying tally. Greg Chase poked the puck to Draisaitl, who backhanded a gorgeous pass across the ice to Christoffer. The former Regina Pats captain twirled and scored to tie the game at three.
A battle had been brewing since the second period between Nurse and Calgary’s Rasmus Andersson. The two finally dropped the gloves and let the fists fly and Nurse made short work of his opponent. That sparked even more energy from the surging Oilers Rookies.
“It was pretty bang, bang,” said Nurse. “There was a big scrum in front of the net and he kind of came in and grabbed me and said, ‘let’s go.’ so I said, ‘okay, let’s do this.’ and we were kind of going back and forth over the course of the game and we played against each other in junior so we settled something tonight.”
Draisaitl gave the Oilers their first lead of the night on a penalty shot midway through the third. The big, German centre was hauled down in front of the Calgary net and lined up for his free shot. The 2014 third-overall pick deftly went five-hole on McDonald for the 4-3 lead.
“Leon, I think, is a gamer,” said Oilers Rookies Head Coach Gerry Fleming. “I think when the game is on the line, he wants to be on the ice, he wants the puck, he wants to be that guy that can turn the game around. He played well tonight. A little bit of a slow start but as the game went on he got more ice time and he responded well.”
Winquist potted the insurance empty-net goal with 1:14 left to play, for his second of the night. Connor Rankin added another empty-net goal for good measure, with just 5.9 seconds left on the clock. That completed the 6-3 comeback victory for Edmonton.