CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — The first Battle of Alberta in the playoffs in 31 years didn’t disappoint.
The Calgary Flames got a hat trick from Matthew Tkachuk to outlast the Edmonton Oilers 9-6 and grab Game 1 of the second round series Wednesday night after a blistering game that saw the most goals in a postseason game in 29 years.
“Strange game,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “We scored on our first two shots and there were probably six different games out there. Take the win. Move on.”
Blake Coleman scored twice for the Flames. Rasmus Andersson and Andrew Mangiapane each had a goal and two assists, and Elias Lindholm and Brett Ritchie also scored. Jacob Markstrom stopped 22 shots for the win.
Zach Hyman scored twice for Edmonton, and Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists for his fourth straight multi-point game in the playoffs. McDavid leads the league’s postseason 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 goals on 10 shots. Mikko Koskinen made 32 saves in relief.
“We fought back and made it a game, but we can’t feel good about that in any way because we scored six goals in game and found a way to not win it,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said.
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.
It was the highest scoring postseason game since Los Angeles beat Calgary 9-6 in the 1993 division semifinals.
In a matchup of potent offenses, 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 Oilers orange and blue at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
“Couldn’t ask for a better start, but you’ve got to have that killer mindset and you’ve got to be able to put teams down and keep pushing them down,” Coleman said. “We made some mental mistakes in the second period, got away from our checking game a little bit. The good news is it’s correctable.
“That’s not our style of game, 9-6. It’s great that we got the Game 1 win but there’s a lot to dissect here.”
The Oilers did not go quietly, however. The Flames held a 40-18 edge in shots after two periods, but led 6-5 heading to the third.
Yamamoto briefly tied the game at 1:28 of the final period, putting McDavid’s rebound over Markstrom’s outstretched pad.
Andersson regained the lead for Calgary at 2:57 after getting a pass from Mangiapane from behind the net. Tkachuk made it 8-6 at 8:55 with his second of the night and scored into an empty net to complete his first postseason hat trick.
Hats rained down onto the Saddledome ice and chants of “we want 10” goals soon followed.
“Not good. Not good at all,” Tkachuk said. “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.”
Coleman struck 45 seconds into the second period and again at 6:10 to push the Flames’ lead to 5-1.
Bouchard converted McDavid’s pass at 7:10, and Tkachuk batted in a rebound for a power-play goal at 8:24 after Edmonton’s Zack Kassian was sent off for roughing.
Hyman scored at 9:38 and 14:06 to pull the Oilers to 6-4. Draisaitl made it a one-goal game with 39 seconds left in the second when he beat Markstrom far side on an odd-man rush with McDavid.
Lindholm converted Calgary’s first shot of the game into a goal 26 seconds in, and Backlund fed an undefended Mangiapane in the slot to beat Smith from close range at 51 seconds.
“If you go down 2-0 before it hits the 19-minute mark on the clock, it’s obviously not a good start,” Draisaitl said. “Clearly we weren’t ready and it’s tough to play catch up for the whole night. … We can all be a lot better away from the puck, and that starts with myself.”
Ritchie scored his first career playoff goal at 6:05 to make it 3-0, and McDavid tucked the puck between Markstrom’s pads at 7:41 to get Edmonton on the scoreboard.
The Flames were missing top shutdown defenseman 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 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 players to have a six-game point streak in the playoffs. … McDavid was the first Oilers player to score a goal in four straight postseason games since Michael Peca and Shawn Horcoff in 2006.