With the relatively early start time on Sunday, hockey fans around the continent got to sit back and watch Connor McDavid do his thing. Unfortunately, so did the Calgary Flames.
The Edmonton Oilers top line did major damage in the second period of a 4-1 win over the Flames in Game 3 of their second-round NHL playoff series.
If the Flames don’t find their way back to the disciplined, structured and successful foundation that earned them the regular-season Pacific Division title, this could be a much shorter series than expected.
“I think we had a lot of our younger guys who haven’t been in this situation before a little bit intimidated by this atmosphere,” Sutter said of the Oilers playing at home for the first time in the series. “You knew what was coming.
“Give Edmonton credit, the way they played in the neutral. Fed 97’s game, for sure.”
McDavid finished with another three assists to run his point total to 23 in 10 playoff games. Linemate Leon Draisaitl had four helpers on the night, and Kane was the finisher with three goals in a six-minute span in the second period.
Kane’s natural hat-trick was impressive. But, as usual, it was McDavid making the magic happen.
The Oilers could easily have been up even earlier as they dominated the first period but came away with a scoreless tie.
Despite facing a shot a minute in the first period, Jacob Markstrom helped the overmatched Flames escape the opening 20 minutes by making 20 saves.
Oilers offence erupts in second period
But it didn’t take long in the second period to start the ball rolling. McDavid drew two Flames to his way on a fast break in the first minute of the second period, dished the puck across the ice to Leon Draisaitl, who tapped it to Zack Hyman for the finish.
The game was out of reach just past the midway mark thanks to what has to be the most personally satisfying game Kane has ever played.
Draisaitl and Kane took advantage of a botched Calgary Flames line change about seven minutes in and worked a give-and-go to perfection with Kane deking Markstrom for his eighth of these playoffs.
Kane went to the net and tapped in an easy one for his second straight just over a minute later. McDavid collected the puck and backed his way across the blueline, left defenceman Noah Hanifin in his dust and then made the perfect pass to Kane through Rasmus Andersson.
His third straight goal came at 12:58 when McDavid (surprise!) led a two-on-one rush with Kane and made no mistake. The Oilers captain threaded the puck past Oliver Kylington and Kane cut back across the crease to tuck the puck past Markstrom and give the Oilers a 4-0 lead.
Markstrom did not return for the third period, finishing the night with four goals against on 34 shots. Backup Dan Vladar stopped all seven shots he faced in the third period.
Flames finally beat Smith in final frame
If there’s a silver lining for the Calgary Flames, they won the third period with 14 shots and a goal from Kylington.
It was the defenceman’s first ever in the post-season – a perfectly placed top-shelf shot that beat Mike Smith for the first time on the night.
Smith had a strong showing after struggling at times in the first two games. He finished with with 32 saves on the night, including some critical stops against the Flames’ top line when the score was still close in the second period. He had to leave the game briefly to get checked out after being knocked over by Milan Lucic in the third period, but returned to a standing ovation a few minutes later.
His own top line rewarded him with a 10-point night.
“They did a good job of slowing us down,” Sutter said. “That line was pretty effective tonight.”