The Edmonton Oilers claimed the 2023 NHL Heritage Classic with a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames at Commonwealth Stadium Sunday evening.
“That’s more the hockey that we expect out of ourselves,” Leon Draisaitl said post-game. “Throughout the entire lineup I thought we were really good. That’s the way we play, and obviously this night with everything around it makes it more special.”
“You look at the goals we scored, every single one of them was around their blue paint or creating havoc around their blue paint,” Evander Kane added. “That’s a recipe for success for our group.”
The Oilers jumped on the Flames early, with Brett Kulak swiping in a rebound on the backhand 4:19 into the game. Shortly after the Oilers killed off a two-man disadvantage, Draisaitl set up Zach Hyman for his third of the season. The Flames had another two-man advantage later and this time cashed in thanks to a deflection from Nazem Kadri.
“I thought the penalties kept them alive in the game,” Oilers Head Coach Jay Woodcroft said. “Five-on-five defensively, I thought we had the puck a lot. I thought we made good decisions with the puck and when we didn’t have it, we worked very hard to get back to our own end with numbers.
Evan Bouchard restored the Oilers two-goal lead 1:11 later with a big blast from the point.
The Oilers had a lot of pressure early in the second but couldn’t extend the lead. A.J. Greer scored off a rebound right at the end of a Flames power play to pull Calgary within one.
Vinny Desharnais’ point shot bounced past Jacob Markstrom to make it 4-2 Oilers 6:16 into the third. It was Desharnais’ first NHL goal.
“No one really knew it was my first one. I don’t know how they didn’t know that,” Desharnais said with a laugh after the game. “We’ve had some momentum and some good periods but we haven’t been able to put a full 60 together. I knew that goal was big, whoever scored it.”
Evander Kane put it away with an empty netter in the final minute.
“I thought we got back to our foundation of how we want and need to play,” Kane said.
Connor McDavid returned after missing two games with an upper body injury and had an assist.
“This was a big game for us whether it was indoors or outdoors, so for us to get a win in front of all our fans with the big spectacle, it just made it even better,” Connor McDavid said post-game.
Stuart Skinner earned the win with 24 saves. Kane had a goal and two assists.
The Oilers, 2-5-1, will host Dallas on Thursday (630 CHED, Face-off Show at 5:30 p.m., game at 7 p.m.).
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