Player grades: Edmonton Oilers cough up lead but squeak out win over Calgary Flames

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The Edmonton Oilers did their damnedest to lose to the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, giving up a two-goal lead. But, in the end, Edmonton’s power play won the day in a 4-2 win.

In total, the Grade A shots were 12 for Edmonton, 13 for Calgary, with the subset of 5-alarm shots four for the Oilers, two for the Flames.

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Cult of Hockey game grades player grades

Connor McDavid, 6. Two assists for 99 on the year. But quiet for almost all of the game, getting his first major contribution to a Grade A shot at even strength four minutes into the third. He got a second assist on Drai’s second period goal and a second assist on Bouchard’s goal. He and Hyman made a number of fine passes but failed to get an actual shot on a 2-on-0 breakaway in the second. Contributions to Grade A Shots (GAS): Even Strength +1/-1; ST +1/-0.

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Leon Draisaitl, 6. The Executioner’s Shot! Drai drove his mighty harpoon into the back of the net late in the first. Years from how, when we remember nothing else about the McDavid Era, we will remember McDavid rushing the puck and Draisaitl’s devastating one-timer. Drai also set up Hyman for a 5-alarm tip half-way through the second.. He took an undisciplined penalty call late in the third.  GAS: ES +4/-2; ST +2/-0. 

Zach Hyman, 6. He showed some fight, slashing Markstrom after Markstrom had slashed him moments in the first, thus agitating the Calgary goalie so much he might have been distracted on Edmonton’s first goal. The Hy guy also ripped a high slotter off a Flames defender, then off the crossbar halfway through the first, Edmonton’s first Grade A of the game. Just after Foegele missed the net on a breakaway backhander in the first, Hyman did the same.  GAS: ES +2/-0; ST +1/-0. 

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 7. One goal, two assists. Some tricky stickhandling and ragging of the puck to help kill off Edmonton’s first penalty. Fine pass to set up Drai’s one-timer goal in the first. He got off the Schneid, putting in an empty-net goal. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +1/-1.

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Adam Henrique, 5. He had a failed clearance or two on the Oil’s endless death march of an own-zone shift late in the second. He got a slot shot in the third. He made a great backcheck to kick off an Edmonton rush late in the third. GAS: ES +2/-0; ST +0/-0.

Warren Foegele, 5. He failed to drain a clear short-handed breakaway in the first. Showed plenty of hustle. GAS: ES +1/-1; ST +0/-0.

Ryan McLeod, 4. Some solid work puckhandling on a first period 4-on-4. But not such great results for this line this game after their three-goal game against the Avs. GAS: ES +1/-2; ST +0/-0.

Evander Kane, 4. He took a needless retaliatory penalty in the second, with the Flames scoring on the power play. The infraction gave new life to the Flames in a game where they looked ready to fold. He ripped a wicked wrister on net early in the third. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +0/-0.

Corey Perry, 5. Was in the middle of many battles, but lost a few of them on Grade A shots against. GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +0/-0. 

Derek Ryan, 6. Hustled hard all game. He took the puck hard to the net on Brown’s goal. He was set up for a one-timer in the third but penalized by a hook. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +0/-0. 

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Mattias Janmark, 7. Strong on the puck this game. He made a short but sweet pass to set up Brown’s goal. He won a battle on the empty-net goal. GAS: ES +3/-0; ST +0/-0. 

Connor Brown, 7. He went to the net to slam in his fourth goal of the year early in the second. Some good work on the PK. He almost scored again on a Draisaitl pass late in the third.  GAS: ES +3/-0; ST +0/-0.

oilers flames
Edmonton Oilers defenceman Mattias Ekholm (14) and forward Zach Hyman (18) check Calgary Flames forward Mikael Backlund (11) during first period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, April 6, 2024. Photo by Jeff McIntosh /The Canadian Press

Mattias Ekholm, 6. He wandered from the front of the net, allowing a 5-alarm rebound jam by Backlund early in the second. But was otherwise solid. GAS: ES +1/-2; ST +0/-0. 

Evan Bouchard, 6. High event game. His turnover in the first led to a dangerous 2-on-1 and him taking a penalty, but some sharp passes leading to Grade A shots. He slammed in a deflected Bouch Bomb for Edmonton’s crucial third goal.  GAS: ES +2/-4; ST +2/-0. 

Darnell Nurse, 7. His sprawling block stopped a solid Flames chance in the first. Nifty stick-check kicked off the Virtuous Cycle leading to Brown’s goal. He was out the longest on the endless d-zone shift, 3:48, but it was a bend without breaking marathon. GAS: ES +1/-2; ST +0/-0. 

Cody Ceci, 6. He made a solid stick-check to thwart Zary in the deep slot early in the first. He levelled the odious pest Pospisil with a second period hit.  GAS: ES +0/-2; ST +0/-1. 

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Vincent Desharnais, 8. Super solid on defence. He kept a clean sheet at even strength, not one major mistakes on a Grade A shot against at even strength. He did a good job taking a way the danger man on a second period 2-on-1 rush, something other Oilers d-men need to master. Great shot block with a 1:20 left in the game, then another with 50 seconds left. GAS: ES +1/-0; ST +0/-0.

Brett Kulak, 5. He stumbled on the puck, leading to a 2-on-1 in the second.  GAS: ES +0/-1; ST +0/-0. 

Calvin Pickard, 7. He fought hard all game, faced 13 Grade A shots, and got the win. What’s not to like? Little action in the first, but assisted by a couple off the post. He thwarted Backlund early in the second, then thwarted Dyrden Hunt on a 2-on-1 a moment later. He was busy in the second and kept the Oilers ahead. He got beat on a few ripping Sharangovich power play shots.

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