In a masterful display of power and prowess, Evander Kane delivered a goal coupled with two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to an emphatic 5-2 triumph over Calgary Flames. This gripping clash took place at Edmonton’s own Commonwealth Stadium as a part of the Heritage Classic outdoor game on Sunday, a contest between two teams struggling to find form in the current NHL season.
The Oilers, who sport a rather undesired record of 2-5-1, finally snuffed out their four-game losing streak. The contributing figures of Brett Kulak, Zach Hyman, Evan Bouchard, and Vincent Desharnais shall also be lauded for their goals. However, the Flames, diminishing to a 2-6-1 sketch, have sadly entered a five-game losing vortex. For them, A.J. Greer and Nazem Kadri found the back of the net.
Interestingly, the weather at the stadium proved much more accomodating than it did twenty years back at the inaugural Heritage Classic. While the then wind chill plummeted to an intimidating -30 Celsius, fans were relieved to find it at a bearable 3 Celsius this time right at the moment the pucks started dancing.
The game kicked off with a palpable tension. The initial breakthrough came when Edmonton netted a goal four minutes post kick-off. Flames’ goalie Jacob Markstrom, unable to deal with Kane’s intense attack, faltered as Kulak executed a sweeping backhand shot, taking advantage of the rebound.
No sooner did the Oilers ridden their two-man disadvantage, than they doubled their lead. Leon Draisaitl emerged from the box, bided his time for Hyman to join him, thus setting Hyman up for his third season goal.
Calgary, however, retaliated by netting a goal with mere seconds remaining on their own two-man advantage. Kadri’s high shot deflected off the Oilers’ goalie Stuart Skinner’s blocker, marking Kadri’s first seasonal goal. Nevertheless, the Oilers soon reinstated their two-goal lead, with Bouchard landing a long-ranged shot. Edmonton’s captain, Connor McDavid, albeit uncertain about his return post injury, did make his presence felt by assisting and extending his home scoring streak to 24 games.
Once again, Calgary squeezed in a goal courtesy of a rebound shot by Greer, after a commanding push by Mackenzie Weegar. Edmonton, however, retaliated with six minutes into the final frame, thanks to a high bouncing Desharnais point shot that surpassed Markstrom. The Oilers then sealed their victory with a late goal from Kane.
The 2023 Heritage Classic celebrated its 20th iteration since the first in 2003. Since then 36 NHL outdoor games have taken place. Both Edmonton and Calgary have marked their presence thrice now in these outdoor extravaganzas.
The Edmonton Oilers previously thrashed the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 in the 2016 clash at Winnipeg’s Investors Group Field. The Calgary Flames, having hosted the Classic in 2011, defeated Montreal 4-0. They, however, lost to the Jets 2-1 in overtime at the 2019 gathering in Regina, Sask.
The Flames’ Kadri made his fifth outdoor NHL game appearance in this edition. The 2003 Classic, with an astounding attendance of 55,411, was declared a sold-out event by the NHL.
Looking forward, the Flames would take on the Dallas Stars back at home on the next Wednesday. The Stars then will be heading towards Edmonton to clash with the jubilant Oilers on the approaching Thursday.