Flames burned 3-2 at home by Oilers comeback
By Darren Haynes in Calgary
Zach Hyman scored twice, including the game winner at 12:24 of the third period, as the Edmonton Oilers came from behind for a 3-2 NHL victory over the Calgary Flames on Saturday night.
Connor McDavid, who also added two assists, had the other goal for Edmonton (6-3-0), which has won three in a row.
Mikael Backlund and Brett Ritchie replied for Calgary (5-2-0).
Stuart Skinner made 40 saves to earn the win and improve to 2-1-0.
Jacob Markstrom, who had 22 saves, suffered his first loss of the season. He is 4-1-0.
Looking to bounce back from a dismal playoffs performance against the Oilers last spring in which he gave up 24 goals in five games for an .852 save percentage, Markstrom was excellent for 2 1/2 periods stopping all but one of 23 shots as Calgary nursed a 2-1 lead.
Late in the second, he got his shoulder on a dangerous chance by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins after he was set-up by McDavid on an odd-man rush created by McDavid’s stealing of the puck from Nazem Kadri in the neutral zone.
Five minutes into the third, the Oilers threatened again with Nugent-Hopkins again the triggerman in front, but Markstrom kicked out a pad to turn the puck aside and keep the score 2-1.
But at 9:02, Edmonton defenceman Cody Ceci rimmed the puck in from centre and after Markstrom went out of his net in an attempt to stop the puck behind the net but failed, he couldn’t get back into the net and set and McDavid’s quick shot went under his arm, tying the game.
On the game winner just over three minutes later, Edmonton pressure led to a turnover in front and McDavid’s centring attempt deflected off Hyman’s skate and into the net.
Calgary had broken a 1-1 tie 16:06 of the second on Ritchie’s third of the season as the Flames’ fourth line connected.
That’s three goals in seven games for Ritchie, matching his goal total from last season, which came in 41 games. The rugged winger hasn’t topped four goals in a season since 2017-18 with Dallas when he notched seven.
Scoreless after the first period, Calgary grabbed the lead short-handed at 4:14 of the second with Backlund getting loose down the wing and firing a shot past Skinner.
Less than 30 seconds later, Backlund got in alone, pulling Stewart out of position with a move to his left, but in attempting to set up Lindholm in front, the pass went into his skates and he wasn’t able to get much of a shot.
Right after with the two Flames penalty killers caught up ice, Edmonton quickly transitioned up ice with Leon Draisaitl dropping the puck to McDavid who zipped a cross-ice pass to Hyman, who supplied the finish.
POWER PLAY SHOWDOWN
The game featured two of the league’s top two power plays with Edmonton entering the night ranked second and the Flames sitting fourth. The Oilers went 1-for-4 making it nine games in a row with a goal on the man advantage.
Calgary, which is getting it done with a completely overhauled top unit with Nazem Kadri, Jonathan Huberdeau and Tyler Toffoli replacing Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, went 0-for-3.
BATTLE OF ALBERTA NEARLY OVER
After finally meeting last year in the playoffs for the first time over 30 years, the two rivals only face each other three times this season and two of those games are now done.
Calgary won 4-3 two weeks ago in Edmonton. The season series wraps up Dec. 27 when the Oilers return to the Saddledome.
Oilers: Open a three-game homestand on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators.
Flames: Eight straight games at home continues Tuesday when the Seattle Kraken pay a visit.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2022.
McDavid enters history books, Skinner shines as Oilers top Kings 2-0
Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 300th career goal, against the Los Angeles Kings during third period NHL action in Edmonton on Thursday March 30, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
By Shane Jones in Edmonton
Connor McDavid scored his 300th career goal, Stuart Skinner made 43 saves for Edmonton’s first shutout of the season and the Oilers defeated the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 on Thursday.
McDavid became the first player in NHL history to have five different 10-game point streaks in a single season, breaking Wayne Gretzky’s record of four in the 1986-87 season.
McDavid also became the fifth player in league history to reach 300 goals and 500 assists before playing 600 career games. Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Peter Statsny and Bryan Trottier are the others.
Evander Kane scored the other for Edmonton (44-23-9), which has won three in a row and gone 12-2-1 in March.
The Oilers also moved ahead of the Kings for second place in the Pacific Division by one point.
Joonas Korpisalo made 35 saves for Los Angeles (43-22-10), which has lost two in a row on the heels on a franchise-high 12-game points streak.
Kane opened the scoring with just 52 seconds left in the first period. Leon Draisaitl made a beautiful behind-the-back spin pass to Kane, who was able to send a one-timer past Korpisalo for his 15th of the season.
Draisaitl picked up his 70th assist and extended his point scoring streak to 11 games on the play.
Skinner was later able to keep the Kings off the board midway through the second period, making a big glove save on Adrian Kempe’s breakaway backhand shot.
Edmonton outshot Los Angeles 27-24 through 40 minutes after a scoreless second period.
McDavid made it 2-0 3:53 into the third period when he picked off a pass and sped away on a short-handed breakaway to score his 61st goal of the season. It was also his fourth short-handed goal of the campaign.
Skinner made huge saves on Vladislav Gavrikov and Viktor Arvidsson in the dying minutes and collected his 10th win in the month of March to set a franchise record for wins in a single month.
The Kings entered the game with a 9-1-2 record in March and the league’s best point percentage for the month, while Edmonton was second. Edmonton leads the NHL with 4.71 goals per game in March, while the Kings are fourth at 4.00. A major difference is that the Kings also had the lowest goals against per game at 2.08 during that span … Edmonton had also scored four or more goals in 11 of its 14 games this month and its power play has operated at 42.3 per cent during their 7-0-1 run coming into the contest. … Edmonton became the first team to have two players record 70 assists in the same season since the 2008-2009 Pittsburgh Penguins and just the 21st team in NHL history to do so … The Kings were without Gabriel Vilardi (upper body), while the Oilers were missing Ryan Murray (back), and Ryan McLeod (upper body).
The Oilers play host to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
The Kings play the third game of a four-game road trip in Seattle against the Kraken on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.
Appropriate for Alberta premier to discuss COVID case with accused, deputy says
Kaycee Madu shakes hand with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith after he was sworn into cabinet in Edmonton, Monday, Oct. 24, 2022. Madu says it was appropriate for his boss to phone up a pastor charged over pandemic-rule protests and discuss the accused’s upcoming criminal trial. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
By Dean Bennett in Edmonton
Alberta’s deputy premier says it was appropriate for Premier Danielle Smith to phone up a pastor and discuss his upcoming criminal trial on charges stemming from protests over pandemic restrictions.
Kaycee Madu, who is also the province’s former justice minister, said Thursday that Smith is working to make Alberta better, adding that she is free to contact whomever she wants in pursuing that mission.
Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley labelled Madu’s comments a dangerous “la la land” rationale and the start of a slippery slope toward a “tinpot dictatorship.”
Smith faces renewed criticism over a leaked phone conservation she had with Calgary pastor Artur Pawlowski in January about his looming criminal trial for his role at a protest over COVID-19 health measures that blocked the United States-Canada border-crossing at Coutts, Alta., in January 2022.
Audio of the call was obtained by the Opposition NDP and played for reporters Wednesday.
In it, Smith is heard commiserating with Pawlowski over her government’s trial tactics, offering to make inquiries on his behalf and saying the Crown is pursuing politically motivated charges against him.
Legal and political observers say the call is a profound breach of the firewall separating politicians from those who decide who gets prosecuted.
Smith has long been critical of COVID-19 masking, gathering and vaccine mandate rules, questioning if they were needed to fight the pandemic. She has called them intolerable violations of personal freedoms.
Madu, when asked by reporters whether it was proper for Smith to have called Pawlowski, said: “COVID policies were divisive for the people of Alberta. I am looking to see us pass that particular era and focus on the people’s priorities.”
He said Smith’s focus as premier has been on things that matter to Albertans, such as affordability, economic growth and taking care of the vulnerable.
“In the course of that particular work, the premier is free to speak with anyone that she wishes to speak with.”
Notley said those remarks, coupled with Smith’s words on the phone call, put Alberta on a slippery path to the politicization of its justice system. She called for an expedited independent inquiry into the matter before the writ is dropped next month for a scheduled provincial election.
“We’re on the verge of a tinpot dictatorship,” Notley said.
“You start ripping apart the fundamental tenets of democracy, you move into dictatorship. It’s that simple.”
Madu moved out of the justice portfolio under former premier Jason Kenney after a third-party report found he tried to interfere in the administration of justice by calling up Edmonton’s police chief to complain about a traffic ticket.
Madu was given a new portfolio under Kenney, then promoted to deputy premier when Smith won the party leadership and became premier in October.
Smith has not spoken to reporters since the audio was released, but in a statement Wednesday reiterated she has acted strictly within the parameters of advice from justice officials and has not spoken directly to Crown prosecutors.
“There is no need for further investigation of this matter,” Smith said in a statement Thursday.
Notley said the call is dramatic and disturbing proof of Smith breaching the judicial firewall.
“You cannot have unfettered power in the office of the premier. There are limits,” Notley said. “Our Constitution for as long as we’ve been a country has said that those limits are defined by an independent judicial system.”
Calgary-based pollster Janet Brown said the controversy will reanimate voter concerns with Smith.
“Why was she even taking a call from someone facing a criminal offence and talking about their criminal charges?” said Brown in an interview.
“This will give undecided voters pause. They will be wondering about her judgment, and her judgment is her Achilles heel.”
Political scientist Duane Bratt said Smith is exerting pressure on the justice system by constantly questioning justice officials about why they are pursuing COVID-19 cases.
“Even if this isn’t about talking to Crown prosecutors, this is clear pressure on (Justice Minister Tyler) Shandro,” said Bratt, with Mount Royal University in Calgary.
Constitutional law professor Eric Adams, with the University of Alberta, said the call threatens public trust in the courts.
“You expose the administration of justice to the reasonable concern of the public that some people have access to the premier and preferential treatment and some people don’t,” said Adams.
“Our system can’t function on that basis.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.
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