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Alberta

Battle of Alberta starts with a bang as Flames down Oilers 9-6 to open playoff series

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By Donna Spencer in Calgary

Matthew Tkachuk scored a hat trick for the Calgary Flames in Wednesday’s 9-6 win over the Edmonton Oilers to open their playoff series.

The NHL’s first playoff Battle of Alberta in 31 years compensated for its long absence with an abundance of goals in Game 1.

Blake Coleman scored twice for the Flames. Rasmus Andersson and Andrew Mangiapane each had a goal and two assists.

Elias Lindholm and Brett Ritchie also scored for Calgary while goaltender Jacob Markstrom stopped 22 shots for the win.

Zach Hyman scored twice for Edmonton. Connor McDavid produced his fourth straight multi-point game in the playoffs with a goal and three assists.

Edmonton’s captain leads the league’s post-season points race with five goals and 13 assists.

Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and Kailer Yamamoto and Evan Bouchard also scored for the Oilers.

Edmonton starter Mike Smith was pulled in the first period after allowing three Calgary goals on 10 shots. Mikko Koskinen made 32 saves in relief.

The winner of the best-of-seven series advances to the Western Conference final.

Game 2 is Friday at the Saddledome before the series heads to Edmonton for Sunday’s Game 3 and Tuesday’s Game 4.

Teams that take a 1-0 lead in a best-of-seven series hold a series record of 503-232 (.684), according to NHL statisticians.

In a matchup of potent offences, the question ahead of the series was which team could keep the puck on its sticks and spend more time in the offensive zone.

Calgary dominated that department early. The Flames scored twice in a 25-second span in the first minute and led 3-0 by 6:05 when Smith was replaced by Koskinen.

Calgary’s two goals in the opening 51 seconds was the fastest two goals to start an NHL playoff game, and electrified a sea of red dotted with Oiler orange and blue at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Oilers would not go quietly, however.

The Flames had survived a goaltender-dominated, grinding series with the Dallas Stars in the first round.

Wednesday’s Game 1 was, by contrast, an open-ice track meet of mediocre goaltending. The Flames held a 40-18 edge in shots after two periods, but led 6-5 heading into the third.

Edmonton’s Yamamoto briefly tied the game at 1:28 putting McDavid’s rebound over Markstrom’s outstretched pad.

Andersson regained the lead for Calgary at 2:57. Mangiapane from behind the net fed the all-alone defenceman whose wrist shot beat Koskinen’s glove.

Tkachuk gave the Flames a two-goal lead at 8:55 with his second of the night. He snared a Draisaitl turnover at the blue line and beat Koskinen five-hole on a breakaway.

Tkachuk scored into an empty net to complete his hat trick. Hats rained down onto the Saddledome ice and chants of “we want 10” goals soon followed.

Draisaitl pulled the visitors within a goal at 19:21 of the second period when he beat Markstrom far side on an odd-man rush with McDavid.

Hyman scored at 9:38 and 14:06 of the second period. He circled out from behind the net and whipped the puck by Markstrom’s glove for his second.

Hyman skated the puck into Calgary’s end, stopped and got a shot away between defenceman Michael Stone’s legs that deflected off Markstrom and into the top corner for his first.

Tkachuk batted in a rebound for a power-play goal at 8:24 after Bouchard converted a McDavid pass at 7:10. McDavid spun off of Dillon Dube to get a cross-ice pass away to Bouchard.

Zack Kassian’s roughing penalty after Bouchard’s goal gave Calgary the man-advantage for Tkachuk’s goal.

Coleman struck 45 seconds into the second period and again at 6:10 for a 5-1 Flames lead.

He redirected a Noah Hanifin shot for his second goal and put a rebound over a prone Koskinen during a scramble around the crease for his first.

McDavid glided in front of the net and patiently waited for Markstrom to commit before tucking the puck between the goalie’s pads at 7:41 of the first period.

Ritchie scored his first career playoff goal at 6:05. He knocked Edmonton’s Evander Kane off the puck at the Oilers’ blue line, reached to collect the loose puck and got a shot away under Smith’s arm.

From behind the net, Backlund dished to an undefended Mangiapane in the slot for the latter to beat Smith from close range 51 seconds after opening puck drop.

Lindholm converted Calgary’s first shot of the game into a goal 26 seconds after opening faceoff. He settled a bouncing puck off a cross-ice dish from Rasmus Andersson and swept it far side over Smith’s glove.

The Flames were minus top shutdown defenceman Chris Tanev a second straight playoff game. He was injured in Game 6 of Calgary’s first-round series against Dallas.

Tanev skated in both Tuesday’s practice and in Wednesday’s morning skate, but did not dress for Game 1.

Notes: With his 94th career playoff win as a head coach, Darryl Sutter joined Pat Quinn ranked No. 6 all-time . . . With three assists in Game 1, Johnny Gaudreau joined Jarome Iginla and Martin Gelinas (2004) among Flames to carry a six-game point streak in the playoffs . . . McDavid was the first Oiler to score a goal in four straight post-season games since Michael Peca and Shawn Horcoff in 2006 . . . The red lot fan zone adjacent to the Saddledome was closed Wednesday because of high winds . . . Game 1 was the highest scoring playoff game involving Calgary and Edmonton surpassing the previous high of 12 goals scored in Game 3 of the 1983 Smythe Division final.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 18, 2022.

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Alberta

Two deputy chief medical officers resign from their positions with Alberta Health

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Edmonton – Alberta’s two deputy chief medical officers of health are leaving their roles — less than a month after Dr. Deena Hinshaw was removed as the province’s top doctor.

Health Minister Jason Copping confirmed during question period Wednesday that both of the doctors have submitted letters of resignation.

“They are still continuing to work at this point in time,” he said in the legislature. “We are in the process of actually looking to fill those roles.”

A statement from Alberta Health said Dr. Rosana Salvaterra and Dr. Jing Hu, who are listed as public health physicians on the department’s website, have given notice.

When reached by her department email, Salvaterra responded: “Unfortunately, we are not able to comment.”

She later added that she respects and admires both Dr. Hinshaw and Dr. Hu.

“They are brilliant, hard-working, and compassionate public health physicians and I consider myself fortunate to have had the opportunity to work alongside them for these past 14 months.”

Salvaterra, who has extensive public health experience including as the medical officer of health for Peterborough, Ont., joined the office in October 2021.

Her career in public health includes work in “the COVID-19 response, mental health, the opioid response, women’s health, poverty reduction, health equity, community food security and building stronger relationships with First Nations.”

Hu’s out-of-office message said her “last day at work with Alberta Health was Nov. 18, 2022,” and noted she wouldn’t have access to the department email after that date.

She got extensive training in China and at the University of Calgary before joining the health department in January 2020.

Their resignations came within a month of Hinshaw, who became the face of Alberta’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic, being removed from her position.

Hinshaw was replaced by Dr. Mark Joffe, a senior executive member of Alberta Health Services, on an interim basis.

“Dr. Joffe will be supported by medical officers of health within AHS, by other staff in the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and by the Public Health Division,” said the statement from Alberta Health late Wednesday.

“We expect these changes to have no impact on the department’s and Dr. Joffe’s ability to meet the requirements of the Public Health Act.”

Hinshaw’s dismissal didn’t come as a surprise.

Premier Danielle Smith announced on her first day in office in October that she would be replaced.

Smith has made it clear that she blames both Hinshaw and Alberta Health Services for failing to deliver the best advice and care for Albertans as the hospital system came close to buckling in successive waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“A lot of the bad decisions were made by Alberta Health Services on the basis of bad advice from the chief medical officer of health,” Smith told reporters on Oct. 22.

Smith has not placed the blame on front-line doctors and nurses but broadly on AHS senior management. Joffe, while serving as chief medical officer of health, retains his role in AHS senior management as a vice-president responsible for areas in cancer and clinical care.

Hinshaw, an Alberta-trained public health specialist, became a celebrity of sorts in the first wave of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, as she delivered regular, sometimes daily, updates to Albertans on the virus, its spread and methods to contain it.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

— By Colette Derworiz in Calgary.

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Alberta

Alberta introduces bill for $2.8 billion in inflation-fighting payouts, rollbacks

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Edmonton – The Alberta government has introduced legislation to implement inflation-fighting rebates and payouts announced recently by Premier Danielle Smith.

Affordability Minister Matt Jones says the changes allow for help for families, seniors and the vulnerable soon.

Middle- to lower-income families, those with a household income of less than $180,000 a year, are to get $600 over six months for each child under 18 years of age.

The same income threshold and benefit applies to seniors, and the payout will also go to those on disability supports.

There will be electricity rebates and the 13 per cent provincial tax on gasoline is suspended from January to June.

The total cost of the package is pegged at $2.8 billion.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.

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