Much has been made of the Edmonton Oilers growing stockpile of young talent, but it was a Calgary Flames rookie who stole the show on Saturday night.
Sean Monahan scored two goals, including the overtime winner, as the Flames snapped a two-game losing skid with a 2-1 victory over the Oilers in a game between two of the NHL’s current lesser lights.
Paul Byron won a battle behind the net with Edmonton defender Martin Marincin 1:50 into the overtime session and sent the puck in front to Monahan, who scored his 18th goal of the season.
“In overtime (Byron) was just buzzing all over the puck and made a great pass to me which fortunately enough I was able to bury,” Monahan said. “I was surprised that I had so much room. That was pretty awesome. That is my first overtime goal in the NHL.”
Flames captain Mark Giordano said that Monahan has become a real go-to guy.
“One thing we have learned about (Monahan) is that he doesn’t miss too many of those chances around the net,” he said. “He has a knack for putting those ones in. Good on him. I am happy for him.”
The Flames (23-30-7) have won seven of their last 10 games.
David Perron responded for the Oilers (20-34-8) who have lost three in a row and sit in second last in the NHL, five points back of fourth-worst Calgary.
“In our own zone for the most part, I thought we were alright,” said Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins. “The last goal was just a great lesson for our defencemen there. You have to win the battle. It’s a simple battle and that’s what happens when you lose a battle like that, especially four-on-four.”
One especially troubling area for the Oilers of late has been the power play, which has now gone 0-19 in Edmonton’s last six games.
“On the power play we’re having troubles entering and we’re having troubles finishing,” said Oilers forward Jordan Eberle. “On the one power play there, we must have had four or five chances and we couldn’t capitalize. When that starts to happen, that starts to wear on you and you start doubting yourself.
“For me personally the biggest thing with our lack of offence, and we seem to go through it every season, is that our power play is dead.”
The Flames started the scoring just past the midmark of the opening period as Monahan was left alone in front of the net to coral a bouncing rebound and the Flames rookie sent the puck past Oilers starting goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.
The goal was immediately followed by a heated tilt between Edmonton’s Luke Gazdic and Calgary’s Kevin Westgarth, with Gazdic landing a punch that floored Westgarth to the point that he had to be helped off the ice and to the dressing room.
“It was a good fight and both guys were throwing good punches,” Giordano said. “At the end of the day you care about the person and it is hard to see something like that. Hopefully he recovers quickly and can get back in the lineup.
“He is feeling alright now, which is good to see.”
Edmonton came close to tying the game just over a minute later when a puck landed behind goalie Reto Berra in the Calgary crease, but was quickly fished out and sent to safety by Giordano.
The solid pace of the first period dropped off during a sloppy second period as Edmonton outshot the Flames by just a 5-3 margin in the scoreless middle frame.
Calgary almost added to its lead seven minutes into the third period but a Giordano shot rang off the post.
The Oilers tied the game just before the midway point of the third as Perron emerged from the sideboards with the puck and fired a laser past Berra for his team-leading 23rd of the season. It was the first goal Edmonton had scored in just shy of 160 minutes of play, extending back to before the Olympic break.
Edmonton picked up the pace for the remainder of the third, but the Flames held on to send the game to extra time to set up the victory.
Calgary has broken the remainder of the regular season into a pair of seven-game segments to approximate playoff series and with that in mind, Monahan said it was an important victory for the team coming off their eighth shutout of the season in a 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings in their return from the Olympic break on Thursday.
“It was kind of a must-win game for us,” he said. “It was pretty intense. After (Westgarth) goes to war like he did, you have to find a way to win. Fortunately enough we did. We just want to win as many games as we can at this point.”
The Flames return to action on Monday as they travel to Minnesota to face the Wild. The Oilers play the third game of a five-game homestand on Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators.
Notes: Calgary was shutout 2-0 by the L.A. Kings in its return to action from the Olympic break, while the Oilers were blanked 3-0 by the Minnesota Wild earlier in the week. The two Alberta-based teams are tied for the most shutouts allowed this season with eight apiecea. It was the fourth of five games between the Oilers and Flames this season. Edmonton came into the game with a 2-0-1 record in the previous three meetings and had won six of the last nine games between the two teams overalla The Oilers were without forward Nail Yakupov, who took a shot from teammate Justin Schultz off the foot in Thursday’s loss to the Wild. While nothing was broken, there is no timetable for Yakupov’s returna Flames defenceman Chris Butler was a surprise starter after suffering an injury versus the Kings. Brian McGrattan, nursing an upper-body injury sustained in practice last week, has been cleared for contact but didn’t play. Also out for Calgary were goaltender Karri Ramo (lower body) and forward Curtis Glencross (lower body)a Calgary forward Lee Stempniak took the game off to be with his wife after the birth of twin daughters on Friday.