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Alberta

McDavid scores in OT, Oilers down Flames to advance to Western Conference final

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By Joshua Clipperton in Calgary

The Edmonton Oilers are off to the Western Conference final.

Connor McDavid scored at 5:03 of overtime as the Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 5-4 on Thursday to win their second-round playoff series 4-1.

The Edmonton captain fired his seventh goal of the post-season past Jacob Markstrom off a pass from Leon Draisaitl to send the Oilers spilling over the bench in celebration.

Zach Hyman, with a goal and two assists, Darnell Nurse, Jesse Puljujarvi and Evan Bouchard also scored for the Oilers. Mike Smith made 32 saves as Edmonton claimed the first post-season Battle of Alberta in 31 years.

Draisaitl added four assists — his fifth straight contest registering three-plus points to build on the NHL playoff record he set in Game 4.

McDavid and Draisaitl have both amassed 26 points to lead the playoffs so far.

The Oilers will face either the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues in their first conference final appearance since 2006. Colorado leads that series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Friday in St. Louis.

Mikael Backlund, with a goal and an assist, Johnny Gaudreau, Calle Jarnkrok and Andrew Mangiapane replied for Calgary. Blake Coleman added two assists, while Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves as the Flames dropped to 0-10 when trailing a playoff series 3-1.

Coleman, who won the Cup the last two seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, appeared to snap a 4-4 tie with just under six minutes left in regulation after Backlund took the puck hard to Edmonton’s net. But the goal was waved off following a video review after it was ruled the winger kicked the puck over Smith’s goal line with his skate as he battled with Oilers defenceman Cody Ceci.

With his team trailing 1-0 after a tentative first period, Edmonton interim head coach Jay Woodcroft double-shifted Draisaitl and McDavid early in the second, and it nearly paid off on a couple of good opportunities.

But the Flames, who topped the Oilers by seven points in the regular season to claim the Pacific Division crown, went up 2-0 at 5:41 when Backlund scored his fifth on a slick deflection.

The Oilers got on the board at 7:40 after Draisaitl protected the puck against Backlund before finding Nurse in the slot for him to fire his second past a screened Markstrom.

Edmonton tied it up just 2:26 later on a 3-on-1 rush when Markstrom could only get a piece of Hyman’s shot before Puljujarvi swept home his second as the Oilers erased another multi-goal deficit on the road.

The offensive floodgates then really opened over a wild stretch that would see four pucks find the back of the net in 71 seconds.

Hyman scored his sixth goal of the series, and eighth of the post-season, on a power play at 14:57 before Gaudreau tied things again at 3-3 at 15:12 with his third.

Jarnkrok then scored his first as a member of the Flames since coming over in a trade with the Seattle Kraken at 15:28 to make it 4-3.

But the Oilers responded again at 16:08 when Bouchard’s blast beat Markstrom for his second as the teams set an NHL record for the fastest four goals in playoff history — 22 seconds faster than the previous mark set by the Philadelphia Flyers and Toronto Maple Leafs in 1976.

Following a tepid start for both teams inside a nervous Scotiabank Saddledome, the Flames nudged in front at 10:13 of the first when Mangiapane took a terrific pass from Coleman to bury his third goal of the playoffs.

The winger’s first point of the series gave his team its first lead since late in the second period of Game 2 — a stretch of exactly 155 minutes — that started a run of three straight losses to push Calgary to the brink of elimination.

One of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie in the regular season, Markstrom entered Thursday with an .850 save percentage in the series after posting a .943 mark in Calgary’s seven-game victory over the Dallas Stars in the opening round.

After the Oilers, who beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 to set up the matchup with their provincial rival, killed off a McDavid high-sticking penalty, the Flames goaltender had to scramble to keep the Edmonton captain’s dash to the net at bay with the puck briefly lying free in Calgary’s crease.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.

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Alberta

“With success comes challenge.” Premier Smith to Alberta Municipalities

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Premier Danielle Smith delivered a keynote address at the 2023 Alberta Municipalities Convention in Edmonton.

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Alberta

Alberta says first steps to reform provincial health delivery system coming this fall

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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks to the media in Calgary, Monday, Sept. 18, 2023. Smith says the first steps are coming this fall to reconfigure Alberta’s health delivery system – a plan the Opposition calls a recipe for more chaos from a government fresh off turning lab testing into a debacle. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

By Dean Bennett in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Premier Danielle Smith says the first steps are coming this fall to reconfigure Alberta’s health delivery system — a plan the Opposition calls a recipe for more chaos from a government fresh off turning lab testing into a debacle.

“We will not delay,” Smith told mayors, councillors and other local leaders at the Alberta Municipalities convention Friday.

She said Health Minister Adriana LaGrange is to present her proposal to Smith and cabinet Wednesday on how to decentralize Alberta Health Services.

“If we get the cabinet approval and the caucus approval, we would be moving on some of that direction in the fall so that we are prepared for the new budget cycle in February.”

Smith has directed LaGrange to revamp the structure of Alberta Health Services, better known as AHS, saying it needs to be more responsive to regional needs and focus more on direct hospital care.

She has said LaGrange will look at whether AHS still needs to be in charge of non-acute functions such as midwifery, primary care staffing and continuing care.

Alberta finished centralizing its health system 15 years ago to create AHS.

Smith has made AHS reform the centrepiece of her leadership.

Last year, she fired the governing board of AHS and replaced it with a single administrator. She blamed the agency for failing to step up during the COVID-19 pandemic as hospitals came close to being overrun with patients.

Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Smith’s plan is only going to make things worse, particularly given the province abandoned last month its attempt to fully privatize community lab services after the changes resulted in long waits for tests in Calgary and southern Alberta.

“People all across this province are struggling to get access to lab (testing) now because of the dysfunction of this UCP (government),” Notley told reporters after her speech to Alberta Municipalities delegates.

“Overlaying more disorganization on top of that is a recipe for further undermining our health care and our public health care.

“There is not a single solitary thing that this UCP government has done under (former premier) Jason Kenney’s leadership or Danielle Smith’s leadership that has made our health care better.”

Alberta Municipalities represents and speaks for villages, towns and cities that make up about 85 per cent of the province’s population.

Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam, the newly elected president of Alberta Municipalities, said they’re hoping for changes and improvements to fix doctor shortages and emergency rooms forced to limit their operating hours.

“I was speaking with members of council from Ponoka and hearing that their emergency room had been shut down nearly 20 times this year so far,” Gandam told reporters.

“The last thing that a person should be worrying about is whether or not the emergency room is going to be open or an ambulance is going to able to respond to their call when they need it.”

The convention focused mainly on calls for more funding from the province.

On Thursday, delegates voted 98 per cent on a motion calling on the province to roll back years of municipal funding cuts on infrastructure.

The association says the province has cut both per capita spending and the percentage of total budget spending for years, resulting in about $1.3 billion less investment in community infrastructure per year that needs to be returned, particularly as the province continues to attract thousands more newcomers a year.

Smith said she will look at ways to get more money to municipalities to help bring property taxes down along with more one-time funding from recent budget surpluses to help accelerate capital projects.

“’I’ve watched it happen many times that we’re very generous (and) increase the funding when times are good, and then when times turn the other way, we ask you to take a pretty big haircut, and that puts a lot of extra pressure on you,” Smith told the delegates.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2023.

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