Sunday, September 15, 2013

Flames rally to win 6-5 in shootout

It looked like it would be a double dose of the Edmonton Oilers triumphing over the Calgary Flames in the Split Squad Battle of Alberta on Saturday night but a late charge by the Calgary road squad resulted in a 6-5 shootout victory for the Flames.

The Oilers had a 5-2 lead with nine minutes to play in the third period but then Calgary found some spark and came all the way back to tie the game at 5-5 with three goals in just over four minutes.

"There are some habits that we need to correct, and we'll be on them as quick as possible," said Oilers Associate Coach Keith Acton, noting particularly the players' shift lengths and their contribution to the Calgary comeback.

Action did like what he saw from a lot of his troops tonight.

"Davidson and Nurse played well on defence. I thought Andrew Ference did as well. We did some good things. I thougth we went to the net really well. Jesse (Joensuu) did well going on the net," Acton continued. "Five goals should be enough to win a game."

Lance Bouma's goal was followed just over a minute later by one from Josh Jooris and then T.J. Galiardi hammered home a power play marker with 4:51 to play to tie it up.

It didn't take the Oilers long at all to do some damage as Taylor Hall fired a shot from the top of the left circle that barely made it over the line -- or perhaps didn't, depending on what angle you were looking at -- after Flames netminder Kari Rammo got a piece of it.

Moments later Ben Street fired a shot from the side boards that eluded a screened Dubnyk and suddenly the game was even at 1-1. Ironically, just over a minute into the game and the match-up at Rexall Place had more goals scored in it than the contest going on three hours south despite that one starting an hour earlier.

The first penalty of the game went to Calgary's Lance Bouma, but the Oilers were unable to convert on the man advantage.

Marco Roy took a minor penalty with just over eight minutes to play in the opening frame to put the Flames up a man for the first time on the night. However, that power play was short-lived as Sven Baertschi took a hooking penalty less than a minute later.

With Baertschi still in the box, Ryan Smyth picked up the puck after Denis Grebeshkov pushed it towards the net. Smyth backhanded it in to put the Oilers back in the lead at 2-1.

That one-goal lead turned into a two-goal lead with 58 seconds to play in the opening frame. Kyle Platzer poked his stick into a scramble and knocked the puck over Rammo to increase the Oilers lead to 3-1.

After one period, shots on goal were 13-8 in favour of Edmonton.

The Oilers opened the second period much the same way as the first, with a lot of energy and it led to another early goal.

Off the rush, the Oilers start hacking away at the puck with Rammo doing acrobatics keeping the puck out of the net. The play started with Nail Yakupov's shot from the left circle and a rebound point-blank by Jesse Joensuu. Mark Arcobello then swooped in to put home the third rebound and make it a 4-1 game.

Near the midway point of the middle frame, Jiri Hudler fed Dennis Wideman at the top of the right circle and he made no mistake, rifling a shot blocker-side past Dubnyk to draw the Flames within two.

The Oilers responded a minute later. Joensuu shoveled the puck from behind the net, wrapping it past Reto Berra, who recently replaced Rammo in the goal.

The Oilers announced that Ales Hemsky had left the game due to illness. Nail Yakupov moved up onto a line with Hall and Smyth. Marco Roy moved into Yakupov's spot with Arcobello and Linus Omark.

Calgary outshot Edmonton 14-8 in the middle frame and had a 22-21 edge in shots over 40 minutes overall.

Oilers Road Squad Triumphs

A 2-0 Oilers lead turned into a tied game late in the third period but a Martin Marincin goal with under five minutes to play sealed a 3-2 victory for Edmonton, stifling a Flames comeback, on the road in Calgary.

The Oilers took the lead at 3:41 of the opening period, on the power play, when Ryan Jones deflected a Jeff Petry point shot in past Joey MacDonald. Defenceman Taylor Fedun was credited with the second assist.

“We did a little entry, put it back to (Fedun) cross-ice and he went to (Petry),” said Jones. “Petry was just walking across the line and I was just trying to do my best to stay in the goalie’s eyes and when (Petry) shot, it was just a matter of trying to put my stick on the puck and I deflected it down a little bit and it just went in.

“When you hang around the front of the net, good things happen.”

Two of the bigger names on the ice for the Oilers, Jordan Eberle and Sam Gagner, nearly connected on a goal in the second period.

Eberle and Gagner had a two-on-one rush on goaltender Joni Ortio with just under eight minutes remaining in the second. Gagner found an open Eberle but the All Star forward shot the puck wide.

“He made a great play,” said Eberle of Gagner’s pass. “Actually, we had one before that too. We just couldn’t handle it. But, a lot of chances… That’s positive when you get into a game like this, your first one, you’ve got to get your legs under you and try to get as many opportunities as you can. That’s what happened.”

Edmonton traded former first round pick, Magnus Paajarvi, to the St. Louis Blues for forward David Perron in the offseason and he showed a reason why with his score in the middle frame.

Perron was checked in the corner and fell to the ice. He battled to get back on his feet and darted to the faceoff dot where Fedun found the forward with a perfect pass. Perron fired a shot past the Flames netminder to give Edmonton the 2-0 lead.

Boyd Gordon was awarded the second assist on the score.

The Flames scored their first at 2:43 of the third period. A shot deflected off the skate of a turned Philip Larsen and right to the Flames 22nd overall pick in 2013, Emile Poirier. The winger fired the puck past Richard Bachman and the Flames drew within one.

Mike Cammalleri tied the game at 6:31 when Matt Stajan pounced on a misplayed puck by Bachman. Stajan spun around quickly and centered the puck to a streaking Cammalleri who buried it.

The Oilers took the lead again when Eberle took the puck end to end and fired a steep angle shot on net. Ryan Hamilton swiped at the rebound and centered it out in front to Marincin who went hard to the net and finished the play, giving Edmonton the 3-2 lead with less than five minutes to go in the game.

Marincin’s goal proved to be the game winner as the Oilers survive a rally by the Flames to take the exhibition game, 3-2. The Oilers return to pre-season action on Tuesday in Winnipeg, against the Jets.

Hartley finds positives in setback to Oilers in Calgary

It didn't put a tick in the win column, but it was a victory nonetheless.

Knotted at 2-2 late in the third period, Martin Marincin's goal 4:52 remaining in the third period may have given the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 victory, but being able to evaluate how his young roster responded in the first game of preseason action was a win for Bob Hartley.

"I was pleased," Hartley said. "I can't fault the effort. The first two goals, there was some kids mistake but that's why we played them. We want to put them in those kinds of situations and if they do well, if they do bad…I shouldn't even say bad. If they make a mistake this is a game of mistakes.

"I felt those kids recuperated real well and they put it behind them and kept going."

Marincin tapped in a pass from Ryan Hamilton after Joni Ortio, on for the back-end of the 60-minute tilt, couldn't corral Jordan Eberle's initial shot. Edmonton's goal came a shift after Emile Poirier just about added his second of the night to give Calgary their first lead of the game, letting traffic funnel to the net before ringing the puck off the post.

Calgary's contingent -- playing opposite their split squad in Edmonton -- trailed by two after two periods, but Poirier put the Flames on the board early in the third.

Shane O'Brien's point shot was blocked but the rebound skirted over to the 22nd pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. Poirier one-timed the puck behind Oilers netminder Richard Backman just 2:43 into the frame to cut the lead to 2-1.

"I think I just went to the net," Poirier said. "It was the right time and it's an unbelievable feeling. First game and (I) scored."

It wasn't just his goal that caught the coach's eye.

"Poirier, especially the second half of the game," Hartley said. "I felt his speed really generated some good scoring chances for us, gave us the rebound goal."

Veteran Mike Cammalleri squared the game after some hustle from Matt Stajan.

Outracing the Edmonton defence to a dump in deep in the Oilers zone, Stajan pivoted and fired a pass squarely onto the stick of Cammalleri, who promptly deposited it behind Bachman at 6:31.

Marincin's late goal put the game out of reach, but Hartley wasn't disappointed with the end result.

Still, the game had plenty of value for Hartley.

"I put some kids with some veterans," he said. "I want to make sure I see my veterans react to playing with younger players. I want to see the younger players react against key position. We played some kids against (Jordan) Eberle and for me, that's what I wanted to see."

Though the Flames had the game's first scoring chances, it was the Oilers who found the back of the net first.

With Ryan Culkin in the penalty box for interference, Ryan Jones deflected a Jeff Petry point shot behind starter Joey MacDonald to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead just 3:41 into the game.

Mark Giordano almost drew Calgary even at Jones' expense. With the Oilers' forward in the penalty box for cross checking, Giordano walked in from the slot and beat Jason Labarbara but not the post at 8:40.

The chance came just minutes after Sean Monahan was denied his first of the season. Taking a cross-ice pass at the top of the crease from Curtis Glencross, Monahan's tap-in was denied by the Edmonton goalie.

Not to be outdone, MacDonald flashed the glove to deny Ty Bilcke his first of the exhibition series at the eight minute mark of the second period. After winning a footrace to the puck, Derek Nesbitt found Bilcke in the slot, but the Flames goaltender was equal to the task for his best save of the night.

With goaltenders splitting action, MacDonald was relieved by Ortio with 8:52 remaining in the middle frame after stopping eight of nine shots. Labarbara stopped all 12 shots he faced before being relieved by Bachman.

It didn't take long for Ortio to be tested.

Edmonton forward David Perron walked off the boards and snapped a shot from the right dot that beat the Flames goaltender short side just 2:05 into Ortio's shift and two minutes after John Ramage's penalty for holding had expired.

Flames overcome three-goal deficit for shootout win in Edmonton

Roman Horak capped off a third period three-goal rally in the shootout to hand the Flames a 6-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place on Saturday.

It was the second and final game of the night between the two clubs who participated in pre-season split-squad games in each of their respective buildings.

Things looked bleak for the Calgary group in Edmonton, facing a 5-2 deficit with less than nine minutes remaining before Lance Bouma cued the comeback with his first goal in a Flames jersey in over a year. Josh Jooris continued to turn heads finding the twine twice in the final seven minutes to even the score 5-5.

Goaltending prospect Reto Berra stood tall in the shootout, denying Linus Omark and Taylor Hall, while Sven Baertschi and Horak capitalized to give the Flames the win.

Karri Ramo started the match in goal for the Flames and turned aside 13 Edmonton shots while Berra stopped all but one of the 14 shots he faced.

Ben Street and Dennis Wideman capped off the scoring for Calgary who will embark on a two-game pre-season road trip to play a pair of natural site contests in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan.

Capitals defeat Jets in shootout at Hockeyville

Two former Belleville Bulls goaltenders put on a show for their hometown fans Saturday night.

Philipp Grubauer, who relieved Braden Holtby midway through the second period, made 25 saves through overtime then went 4-for-4 in the shootout to lead the Washington Capitals to an entertaining 4-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets in the Kraft Hockeyville game at Yardmen Arena.

"I was looking forward to it all summer," said Grubauer, who played for the Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League from 2008-10. "It was pretty amazing to play here again."

Edward Pasquale, a Bulls goalie from 2006-08, went the distance and stopped 36 of 39 shots for the Jets. The only goal in the shootout came in the fourth round, when Capitals defenseman Mike Green scored on a wrist shot for the game-winner.

"They played well," Green said of the goaltenders. "It made for a good game. It was a lot of fun. We didn't know what to expect, and the city welcomed us with open arms. We had a lot of fun today. The people were excited for us to be here, especially the kids. They don't get to see a lot of NHL players come through here."

Evander Kane scored twice, and Scott Kosmachuk had a goal for Winnipeg, which was the designated home team. Jack Hillen, Stanislav Galiev and Troy Brouwer scored for Washington on a night the hockey-crazed fans of Stirling-Rawdon likely won't ever forget.

"It was fun," Kane said. "They've got the big ice surface out here. I didn't play in the OHL, but it was good. I enjoyed it. It's nice for the fans to see some NHL hockey when they don't maybe get that opportunity every day."

Galiev, Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom came up empty in the shootout for Washington before Green scored.

"I thought it was great," Capitals coach Adam Oates said. "Huge for the League to try and do stuff like this, to give something back to the smaller towns and bring the big guys in there. It obviously doesn't get to happen. [We're] a long way from Air Canada Centre, but it's great for the fans to see Ovi. They got to see him in a shootout, a perfect setup."

Kane struck first 4:33 into the second period. Aiming to find chemistry with linemates Devin Setoguchi and Mark Scheifele, Kane, who was named first star of the game, beat a screened Holtby off a feed from Setoguchi.

"It was good to get our first game under our belts and read and react on how we all play," Kane said. "I thought me and [Devin] established some pretty good chemistry and [Scheifele] did a good job of just kind of distributing the puck. It's only one game and we'll try to build from here."

The Capitals received a scare 6:42 into the game when Ovechkin was down on the ice after a high stick to the face from Jets defenseman Ben Chiarot. Ovechkin lay in pain for about 30 seconds before heading to the dressing room, but he quickly returned. Chiarot received a four-minute penalty.

Oates said Ovechkin received a few stitches near his lip. Ovechkin did not speak with the media after the game, although he did tweet a picture of his face (@ovi8) and wrote, "Just had a plastic surgery)))hahahaah."

"It was a pretty scary one," Oates said.

Green said, "I was up the ice, so I didn't see it until I saw the replay. Geez, he got lucky. But Ovi always seems to come out of it like … he looks mangled, but he's always OK. I guess that's why they call him the Russian machine."

Winnipeg led 2-0 after a goal by Kosmachuk at 6:08. The third-round pick (No. 70) in 2012 took a pass from Nik Petan and beat Holtby on a wraparound.

Grubauer replaced Holtby with 9:47 remaining in the second period after the Capitals starter stopped 17 of 19 shots.

Washington tied the game with goals 1:25 apart later in the period. Hillen cut the deficit in half when his quick shot from the left point beat Pasquale at 13:07, before Galiev redirected Nate Schmidt's feed past Pasquale.

It was a frustrating 85 seconds in what was otherwise a tremendous performance by the Winnipeg goaltender.

"I thought Eddie Pasquale was our best player tonight," Jets defenseman Zach Bogosian said. "He made some real great saves back there for us."

Grubauer preserved the tie with 2:40 left in the second, when he stretched out his left pad to rob Kane's backhand attempt on a breakaway.

"Obviously for him, a bit of an extra [special] feeling," Oates said of his goaltender. "Playing here, I'm very happy for him that he got the win. I think the fans got it all … they got a shootout, they saw a little bit of everything tonight."

Kane scored his second 7:14 into the third period. Moments after Grubauer robbed Setoguchi with a dazzling stick save, Kane beat Grubauer with a wrister from the left circle to give the Jets a 3-2 lead.

Later, with Scheifele in the penalty box for tripping, the Capitals put on a pretty passing display that culminated with a power-play goal for Brouwer, who one-timed Marcus Johansson's feed from behind the net past Pasquale to make it 3-3.

The game went to a shootout following a scoreless overtime, and Grubauer again stood tall and received some help. Setoguchi drilled a shot off the post in the opening round, and Scheifele fired wide in Round 3, but Grubauer denied Kane in the second round and Petan in the fourth to set up Green's game-winner.

"It's always different if you come off the bench in the second half, but you're pro athletes and you've got to make sure you're ready for the game," Grubauer said. "It doesn't matter if you come in the last period, second period. Rebound-wise, I thought I was all right, but I still have to work on a couple of things. I'm looking forward to practice."

Caps take preseason opener in shootout 4-3

Mike Green’s shootout goal enabled the Washington Capitals to come away with a 4-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night in the Kraft Hockeyville game, the first preseason contest for both teams in 2013.

After a scoreless first frame, the Jets scored twice in less than two minutes against Caps starting goaltender Braden Holtby in the second period. Washington bounced back to draw even at 2-2 later in the frame, scoring two goals of its own in less than two minutes.

The Jets regained the lead at 3-2 in the third, but Troy Brouwer’s power play goal set the stage for Green’s shootout heroics.

Jets star Evander Kane started the scoring for Winnipeg at 4:33 of the second frame. With Washington in the midst of a line change, rookie Jets defenseman Julian Melchiori alertly and sharply sent the puck from his own blueline on the left side of the ice to right wing Devin Setoguchi along the right wing wall near the far blueline. Setoguchi gained the zone, then left the puck for Kane, who launched a perfectly placed wrist shot through a three-man screen in front of Caps goalie Braden Holtby. The puck nestled high into the far (left) corner of the cage to give the Jets a 1-0 lead.

Winnipeg wasted little time in doubling its lead. Caps defenseman Karl Alzner had the puck on his backhand in the corner to Holtby’s left. As Jets winger Scott Kosmachuk pressured him from behind, Alzner tried to push the puck around the back of the net but it was picked off by rookie pivot Nic Petan, who gave it to Kosmachuk. Taking advantage of the new, smaller nets the NHL has introduced this season, Kosmachuk quickly wrapped the disc around the smaller cage and tucked it behind Holtby on the goaltender’s right side.

Kosmachuk’s goal came 95 seconds after Kane had staked the Jets to their original advantage and it gave the Jets a 2-0 lead at 6:08 of the second.

Roughly seven minutes later, Washington halved the Winnipeg lead. Troy Brouwer carried the puck down the right side. Soon after entering the zone, he fed a trailing Nathan Walker in the high slot. Walker let go a shot from there, and Pasquale made the stop. But a juicy rebound caromed out toward the left point and Caps blueliner Jack Hillen, like an outfielder charging a ground ball, rushed in to meet the puck and wristed it over Pasquale’s shoulder.

“That’s kind of a set play where you’ve got the middle guy driving and then the far guy comes up the middle,” noted Walker. “He just found me open and it was a good pass.”

“I was keeping my gap tight,” said Hillen, “and sometimes pucks bounce out to you and you’re able to put them in. When you’re shooting from the point, you’re just trying to miss the first couple of guys because there are so many layers to get it through. Most times you’re not aiming to score, you’re just trying to get it on net. That’s really the goal, to get it on net.”

Washington seemed to draw some energy from the Hillen goal. The Caps kept buzzing the Winnipeg end. The Jets tried to clear the zone, but their clearing bid found its way to Caps defenseman Nate Schmidt at the left point. Schmidt spotted Stanislav Galiev with time and space near the right post and fed the winger with a perfect pass. Galiev, who had been firing shots from the left side all night prior to this, was left with an easy tap-in from the right side to make it a 2-2 game.

“Right before that,” explained Schmidt, “I had a chance to make almost the same play. But I missed it. When Connor [Carrick] passed it back over at the blueline, I saw Gally come out of the corner. I just tried to suck that d-man out as far as I could. Stan stared right at me and just let me know that he was there at the back door. All he had to do was just tap her in.”

The Jets struck for two goals in a span of 95 seconds earlier in the period, but it took Washington only 85 seconds in which to tally twice later in the frame.

Winnipeg regained its lead just ahead of the eight-minute mark of the third period. Caps goalie Philipp Grubauer made a desperate paddle stop on Setoguchi, but Jets center Mark Scheifele retrieved the puck behind the Washington net. He quickly fed it to Kane in front, and the Jets winger was able to net his second of the night before Grubauer was fully recovered and in place from making the stop on Setoguchi.

A mere 66 seconds after Kane’s second goal of the game, Caps center Nicklas Backstrom drew a tripping call on Scheifele to put the Capitals on the power play. After Green kept the puck in at the right point, a series of quick passes culminated with Brouwer firing a one-timer from the slot past Pasquale to make it a 3-3 game.

The Capitals killed off an Aaron Volpatti slashing minor without incident late in regulation, and the Jets managed to kill off a tripping call on rookied blueliner Josh Morrissey during the overtime.

Green was the only one of eight shooters – four on each side – to score in the shootout.