Everyone expected a high-scoring affair when the Battle of Alberta began on Wednesday. But few could have predicted that the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames would combine for 15 goals in the opening game of their series. Both teams will aim to solidify their defense when they suit up for Game 2 on Friday night.
Calgary comes into the game as a -178 favorite over Edmonton (+146) at FanDuel Sportsbook, after scoring a 9-6 win in Game 1.
Smith back in net after shaky performance
Notably, FanDuel has set the total on Game 2 at a reasonable 6.5 goals. To stay under – or anywhere near – that total, both teams will need better goaltending and a strong defensive effort on Friday night.
Oilers goaltender Mike Smith lasted just over six minutes in Game 1, in which time he gave up three goals on 10 shots. Edmonton will start Smith again on Friday night.
“It’s not a great perspective to be on the bench nine minutes into a hockey game in the playoffs,” Smith told reporters. “Saying that, it’s one game. If they won it 2-1 and 9-6, it’s still one win and you have to win four.”
Some have speculated that the length of the season and Stanley Cup Playoffs is catching up with the 40-year-old Smith. Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft dismissed that theory.
“He didn’t play a lot of hockey this year compared to a normal season for Mike Smith [due to injury],” Woodcroft told reporters. “The accumulation of rest over his first four or five months in the season set him up to play good hockey down the stretch. He’s been excellent for us.”
Flames remain confident in Markstrom
Calgary starting goalie Jacob Markstrom played the entire way on Wednesday. That wasn’t a sign of a great performance. Markstrom allowed six goals on 28 shots, but did shut down the Oilers the rest of the way after Kailer Yamamoto tired the game at 6-6 1:28 into the third.
“Obviously, I have to be better, everyone knows that, myself included,” Markstrom said afterwards. “But to have a game like that in the playoffs and still come out with a win, that’s a good feeling. The guys definitely bailed me out, so now we’re excited for [Game 2].”
Still, the Flames did blow a 5-1 lead early in the second period before ultimately rallying to win the game. The Calgary players realize they can’t slip up like that again against an Edmonton squad that can put up multiple goals in a hurry.
“We had a good meeting this morning,” Flames forward Mikael Backlund told reporters. “We know we have to do a better job when we’re up and overall. You can never be satisfied. It’s a series, one game doesn’t do it for you, so you have to keep pushing.”