Player grades: Edmonton Oilers explode for 4 goals in middle frame, roll to Game 3 win over Flames

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Flames 1, Oilers 4

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Edmonton Oilers did a lot of things right straight out of the gate on Sunday night, dominating possession and the shot clock to the tune of 21-7 in the opening period. They deserved better than a 0-0 scoreline at that point, but rather than feel sorry for themselves they simply raised their game to an even higher level that the Calgary Flames couldn’t match.

Led by their super line of Connor McDavid flanked by Evander Kane and Leon Draisaitl, the Oilers pumped home 4 goals in the first 13 minutes of the second period, all of them scored on the rush. The trio collected 10 points, with Kane connecting for a natural hat trick in a 6-minute span, all 5-alarm chances from the edges of the blue paint. Draisaitl assisted on all 4 Oilers goals, McDavid 3. Zach Hyman collected the other tally.

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Calgary had a bit of pushback in the third, creating some hair-raising chances in the opening minutes but were unable to solve Mike Smith until garbage time when a consolation tally cut the final margin to 4-1. On the night the Oilers outshot the Flames 41-33 including an 18-16 margin in Grade A shots, while Calgary held a 9-7 edge in 5-alarm chances (running count), with all three measures moderated by score effects.

Player grades

#2 Duncan Keith, 6. Kept things tidy on the back end. Oilers allowed just 4 shots in his 13 minutes at 5v5. Also chipped in 2:47 on the PK. 1 shot, 2 hits, 2 giveaways, 3 blocks.

#5 Cody Ceci, 7. Good at even strength, strong on the penalty kill. Was drilled in the hand by a shot in the third that sent him to the room for a few nervous moments, but he returned to play 5 shifts down the stretch. 0 official shot attempts, though his outside shot was tipped by McDavid for a dangerous chance. 2 hits, 2 blocks, +2.

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#10 Derek Ryan, 5. Oilers fourth line played sparingly again but largely held their own. 2 shots, 2 blocks, 1 hit in 6:48.

#13 Jesse Puljujarvi, 6. More good than bad, but the bad was all compressed into a single shift early in the 3rd where J.P. was victimized on 3 different 5-alarm shots within 30 seconds. Otherwise played a responsible 2-way game, and amped up the physicality with 3 hits. Appeared to block one deflected puck with his face, but won the subsequent race to it anyway.

#15 Josh Archibald, 6. Had a strong early shift in which he hammered Michael Stone with a hard hit and then drew a penalty seconds later. Later took a run at Lucic, though came out second best. Played just 7:42, including 1:15 on the PK where his bad line change was part of the problem on a Calgary 3-on-1. First in the scrum after Lucic decked Smith. On the receiving end of a marginal leg-on-leg hit from Mangiapane late.

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#18 Zach Hyman, 8. Led the Oilers in ice time with 23:03, including over 9 minutes on special teams. Led the forwards in various categories including shot attempts (9), shots on goal (7, of which 6 were deemed Grade A shots), takeaways (2) and shot blocks (2). Opened the scoring in the first minute of the second, converting Draisaitl’s feed with a perfect shot off the far post that beat an over committed Markstrom. Made a superb goal line save to prevent a sure goal in the early third period chaos. His signature shift came midway in the third when he made one fine defensive stop in his own end, a second in the neutral zone, killed some time along the boards in the o-zone before suddenly breaking free into the slot for a dangerous shot.

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#19 Mikko Koskinen, incomplete. Came on in relief after Smith entered concussion protocol, played 4:15 without facing a shot. 0 shots, 0 saves, ∞ save percentage!

#22 Tyson Barrie, 7. Had the puck on a string at times. Made a dazzling 270° spin in the o-zone, left his check for dead, and barely missed beating Markstrom with a high shot to the short side. Made a terrific defensive play to twice bat a dangerous puck out of mid-air, the second time chopping it over to Draisaitl who began a 200-foot play that ended with Kane’s hat trick goal. A couple of defensive issues in garbage time. Is playing with something bordering on ferocity this last while and has not shied away from the hurly-burly of rugged playoff hockey in the least. 5 shots, 3 blocks.

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#25 Darnell Nurse, 6. Led the defence corps with 21:39. On the ice for the first 3 Oilers goals so wound up with a shiny +3 even as he had little involvement in those rushes. Was victimized on a pair of stretch passes that led to partial breakaways, one by Andrew Mangiapane and one by Johnny Gaudreau that also resulted in a rebound chance by Matthew Tkachuk. Fortunately Smith had the answers. Played a massive role on the penalty kill, logging a team-high 5:03 in the 8 minutes Oilers were short. Played a more physical style than we’ve seen lately, landing 3 hits. Not much going on offensively of late as he battles through injury.

#27 Brett Kulak, 6. Had a couple of chances in short order in the opening period, first slicing in on the left side to test Markstrom from close range, then off the subsequent faceoff firing a shot through traffic that handcuffed the Flames tender and hit the goal post. 3 shots, 3 hits, 2 blocks, and 2 minor penalties in a fairly high event game.

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#29 Leon Draisaitl, 9. Set up all 4 Oilers goals, starting the transition from deep in his own territory on 3 of them and on the other made a superb move around Erik Gudbranson and backhand feed to Kane for the finish. Fired 4 shots of his own. Oilers busiest faceoff man as usual, going 9/18=50%. Took a penalty, though it looked to me (and to him, judging by the way he complained) that Gaudreau had grabbed his stick. Drew a penalty the other way minutes later. Skating is getting better by the game. Now has 10 points (!) through 3 games of the series and is second in the NHL with 19 in the postseason. 0-4-4, +4 on this night.

#37 Warren Foegele, 6. Had some effective shifts on a decent line with McLeod and Yamamoto, posting 67% shot shares while allowing precious little at the other end of the ice. Little of danger, but lots of solid grinding.

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#41 Mike Smith, 9. Rock solid through 40 minutes, including tremendous saves on the Mangiapane, Gaudreau and Tkachuk chances mentioned in the Nurse comment. Stopped Tkachuk 6 times on the night, including several dangerous drives. Also started the play on Hyman’s goal with a heads-up pass to Draisaitl that turned the play north. Turned it up a notch in the third when he stood on his head, at one point stopping 6 Grade A shots in under a minute. Drew a major penalty when he got drilled into the end boards by Milan Lucic, spent some time in concussion protocol but returned to finish the game. 33 shots, 32 saves, .970 save percentage.

#44 Zack Kassian, 5. An early shot on net, his first of the series. 3 hits in just 5:43 of action.

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#56 Kailer Yamamoto, 6. Some decent possession time in the o-zone, even as those possessions didn’t result in many shots for the Oilers they kept the Flames at bay. Played 16:23 including over 6 minutes on special teams.

#71 Ryan McLeod, 6. Noticeable all night, mostly in a good way, playing a role at evens and both special teams, 16:37 altogether. 3 shots, 2 takeaways, and a team best 10/15=67% on the dot, with 2 of those faceoff wins leading directly to Grade A shots. Did have one bad line change that led to a Flames jailbreak, and lost a battle on the lone Flames goal.

#75 Evan Bouchard, 6. As with Keith, played a solid, mostly safe 17 minutes on the back end. Moved the puck well, especially behind his own blueline, though did have an anxious moment when he was trapped by 2 Flames while trying to exit his own zone. Made up for that when he stepped up to stop a Calgary odd-man rush with a good stick check high in the defensive zone.

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#91 Evander Kane, 9. Served notice of an excellent night to come when he rang the post from range early in the game. Found his stride in the middle frame when he collected the natural hat trick in just 6 minutes. All 3 times he materialized on the edge of the blue paint at just the right moment to receive a fine pass and lift a shot over Markstrom. On 2 of them he made a fine move to his backhand before the finish; the third was a one-timer. In addition to 6 shots on net he also had a game-high 10 hits. Currently leads the NHL in playoff goals (10), shots (43) and hits (48). He did take a bad penalty and was also among the culprits on the late Calgary goal, but the best word to describe his impact is “outstanding” so 9 it is.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6. Solid shot metrics built on some strong possessions in the offensive zone with Hyman and Puljujarvi. Also some excellent work on the penalty kill. Played a tick under 22 minutes in all situations. Rang the post in the dying seconds but the Oilers didn’t need that goal anyway.

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#97 Connor McDavid, 9. Another dazzling show which included maybe a half-dozen “ankle breaking” moves that left helpless opponents in his wake. 3 more assists, the most spectacular of which saw him receive a pass while skating backwards just outside the Calgary line, spin, tuck it through his own skates, burst in, hold the puck against 3 scrambling defenders, and feed Kane a perfect backhand pass. Minutes later made another beauty feed to the same linemate off the forehand side. Took no faceoffs at all after just 1 last game, as his “new” linemate Draisaitl has taken on that role. 3 more hits, drawing a roar from the crowd when he decked Tkachuk with a reverse hit. Did take a bad penalty in the 3rd, but also drew one in Edmonton’s favour earlier.

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