The Battle of Alberta went through its latest skirmish Wednesday and the Calgary Flames took the victory, finishing off the Edmonton Oilers by a final score of 4-3 after a shootout stretched things to the limit.
The Oilers had the edge in shots, hits and powerplay goals. They went one for four on the man advantage, while the Flames were scoreless on their single power play.
There were fights, as anticipated, and Zack Kassian and Matthew Tkachuk did get into it with under four to go in the first. But the game never really bubbled over, with most of the rough stuff out of the way after the opening verse. Even Sean Monahan and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tossed some soup bones.
By the time things rolled into the second and third periods, the Battle of Alberta had stabilized.
Naturally, the main event of this episode was the matchup between Tkachuk and the newly-contracted Kassian. The latter was tossed a four-year extension Wednesday, largely because he’s been producing points and getting the Oilers some critical help in the physicality department.
But you have to think that extension has a lot to do with Kassian’s shrewder but no less important role, apparent when he drew the Tkachuk fight Wednesday and sealed the deal.
The bad blood was ostensibly set to boil over when Tkachuk was lambasted for ducking a fight against Kassian on January 11, this after he took at least three runs at the Edmonton forward.
Dodging war is not going to earn you a lot of respect, which is why Tkachuk became Public Enemy Number One since that crucial day and why Wednesday’s tilt had more eyeballs on it than normal.
So, what now? Kassian and Tkachuk had their fight. Kassian gave his foe the nod. George Parros was there to deter any shenanigans, apparently.
If there’s anything to the hockey world’s notion of atonement, what happened on the 11th has thusly and hastily been paid for by what happened on the 29th. The stage can be set for a return to normal, even though Leon Draisaitl did look pretty disheartened after Calgary goalie David Rittich tossed his stick way in the air during a celebration of his game-winning stop.
There is, of course, always room for bad blood – especially in this Battle of Alberta. The Flames have the wins. The Oilers may have a handful of moral victories, but they’d rather have the wins. And on Saturday, they’ll meet again in Calgary to start a new chapter.
Photo credit: Canadian Press