Neither team can afford the kind of goaltending we saw in the first game between the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers.
Mike Smith let in two goals in the first minute, and was watching from the Oilers bench a little more than six minutes into the game.
Jacob Markstrom was given a much longer leash but wasn’t at his best in Game 1 as his Flames let leads of 5-1 and 6-2 slip away in the second and third period.
Ultimately, the Flames escaped with a 9-6 victory on the heels of a strong finish. But neither team expects that kind of scoring tonight in Game 2.
“We beat the odds the other night,” Calgary Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said Friday of the wild opener.
“I think both teams would say that they expect more saves.”
His counterpart Jay Woodcroft didn’t hesitate in announcing Smith as the starter the day after the disappointing loss, and the 40-year-old veteran offered some confident words through the media.
“The message from me is I want to go out there and be the backbone,” Smith said on Thursday. “Help this team stay calm and show that with my play.”
Smith has a reputation for letting his emotions run high at times on the ice. Not every goalie has fighting majors on their resume. But after struggling with the mental side of the game at times in the past, he says he’s able to move on from a shaky performance much easier now.
“I wasn’t very good earlier in my career (at bouncing back), which is why I probably bounced around a bit. Experience helps,” Smith said. “You can’t take back what happened in the past. I could sit here and boo-hoo myself, but there’s nothing I can do about it now. I have to think about what happens next.”
Rare off night for Flames’ Markstrom
What happens next has also been on Markstrom’s mind after a rare off night for the Calgary Flames starter.
“Obviously, I have to be better, everyone knows that, myself included. But to have a game like that in the playoffs and still come out with a win, that’s a good feeling,” said Markstrom, who had more goal support than his counterpart. “The guys definitely bailed me out.”
Sutter wasn’t sure what Markstrom needed to work on to move forward and get better. He left those details to goaltending coach Jason Labarbara this week.
“The only thing I know about goaltending is big saves and bad goals,” Sutter said this week. “That’s all I know.”
Suggestions that Smith is tired after starting more consecutive games than he had all year were brushed aside by the Oilers netminder.
“It’s about staying the course and not letting games like that affect you mentally and physically,” said Smith. “This is about as good as I’ve felt all season long. It’s getting the job done when you get the opportunity. There’s no panic in your game. We learn and move on.
“It’s not a great perspective to be on the bench nine minutes into a hockey game in the playoffs, but saying that, it’s one game.”