Connor McDavid recording four points in a game is supposed to mean a win for the Edmonton Oilers. In Game 1 of the 2022 Battle of Alberta: Playoff Edition, it did not, and it was quite historic.
The Calgary Flames’ wild 9-6 win on Wednesday saw the Oilers captain score a goal and record three assists, but come out with the loss. Before Game 1, Edmonton was 22-0 in games during McDavid’s NHL career when he had four points.
Of course, nothing was normal that night. While we can’t expect the rest of this series to see double-digit goals in each game, Flames head coach Darryl Sutter knows that containing McDavid — as difficult as that is — is a task that will lead to success for his team.
“He’s a great player. He’s the best player in the league. He was the best player on the ice [in Game 1]. Not even close,” Sutter said after Game 1.
“So at the end of the series if Connor McDavid gets four points a game, have a good next series, Connor.”
Flames good, but lots to clean up
Both teams played sloppy and Sutter and Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft know that and will have surely spent the time since Game 1 ended looking at the various breakdowns that lead to the goal bonanza. The Flames may not have been happy with allowing six goals, but they did dominate most of the game.
Per Natural Stat Trick, Calgary outshot the Oilers 35-20 at 5-on-5, led in unblocked shot attempts (64%), high-danger chances (68.42%), expected goals (66.7%), and scoring chances (68.9%). Leading those categories will certainly help you reach nine goals, but you don’t want to have to rely on that offensive explosion if you’re letting six go in in your end.
“Not good. Not good at all,” said Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk, who recorded a hat trick. “Probably our worst game of the playoffs so far. We got super lucky. That’s just not the recipe for success. Maybe we win this one, but we’re not going to win many more if we’re going to play like that. I thought we had a great start. Second period really got away from us. I think once we got a lead in the third we played a little bit better.”
“Quite honestly, it sounds crazy because we scored nine goals, but our passing and our shooting and our skill execution was very sloppy,” Sutter said. “To be quite honest, we were fortunate to win the game.”
There was much more than goaltending that went wrong for both the Flames and Oilers. Both goalies know, however, they need to be better to give their respective teams a chance in Game 2.
“I thought five would be enough but obviously they got the sixth to tie it up right away, but I mean, the guys responded,” said Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom. “The guys were great in front of me. Obviously, I have to be better, everyone knows that, myself included, but to have a game like that in the playoffs and still come out with a win, that’s a good feeling. The guys definitely bailed me out, so now we’re excited for [Friday’.”
“The message from me is, I want to go out there and be the backbone,” said Oilers goaltrender Mike Smith, who will start Game 2. “Help this team stay calm, and show that with my play.”
CALGARY FLAMES v. EDMONTON OILERS (CGY leads 1-0)
Game 1 – Flames 9, Oilers 6
Game 2 – May 20: Oilers at Flames, 10:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
Game 3 – May 22: Flames at Oilers, 8 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN2)
Game 4 – May 24: Flames at Oilers, 9:30 p.m. ET (Sportsnet, CBC, TVA Sports, ESPN)
*Game 5 – May 26: Oilers at Flames, TBD
*Game 6 – May 28: Flames at Oilers, TBD
*Game 7 – May 30: Oilers at Flames, TBD
* if necessary
TBD – To Be Determined