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The Canadian Press

McDavid leads Oilers to 3-2 victory over Flames in Battle of Alberta matchup

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid scored the game winner and the Edmonton Oilers won the latest Battle of Alberta Friday, topping the Calgary Flames 3-2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Dominik Kahun also put away goals for the Oilers (23-14-1), and Leon Draisaitl notched assists on a pair of power-play markers. Calgary (16-19-3) had goals from Michael Stone and Matthew Tkachuk, but twice surrendered a one-goal leads. Mike Smith stopped 24-of-26 shots for the Oilers and Jacob Markstrom had 22 saves for the Flames. The Calgary netminder has now lost his last five starts in a row. The result did nothing to improve the Flames’ playoff hopes. The team continues to sit fifth in the North Division, six points back of the Montreal Canadiens. Edmonton has had the edge in the series between the bitter rivals this season, improving to 5-2-0 with Friday’s result. The Oilers and Flames will meet three more times this year. Both sides came into Friday’s matchup well rested. Edmonton was blanked 4-0 by the Canadiens on Tuesday while Calgary’s last game, a 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets, was on Monday. The Flames flew to Vancouver to face the Canucks Wednesday but the game was called off shortly before puck drop as the hosts added another player to the NHL’s COVID-19 list. The Canucks had seven players and a member of the coaching staff in the league’s protocols on Friday. A third-period power-play goal was the difference maker for Edmonton. Noah Hanifin was called for interference midway through the frame and the Oilers were quick to capitalize. Just four seconds into the advantage, McDavid fired a one-timer at the Calgary net. Markstrom got a chunk of the shot but the puck dribbled over the goal line, putting Edmonton up 3-2. It was McDavid’s 22nd goal of the season. He continues to lead the league in scoring with 64 points. Draisaitl sits second in the scoring race with 56 points (19 goals, 37 assists). Kahun drew the Oilers even 11:29 into the second Friday. Kailer Yamamoto chipped him a little pass across the top of the crease and Kahun, stationed in the blue paint, jammed it in to make it 2-2. Tkachuk had given the Flames a one-goal lead 5:25 into the frame. Sprung from the box after serving a slashing penalty, the feisty forward picked up the puck in the neutral zone and sped away on a breakaway. His stick work in front of the net tricked Smith into believing he’d try to slip one through the goalie’s legs, but instead Tkachuk put a backhand shot up under the cross bar for his 10th goal of the year. It was a power-play tally from Nugent-Hopkins that initially tied the game up early in the second. With Chris Tanev in the box on a tripping call, the Oilers’ potent power play got to work. A series of crisp passes in front of the Flames crease ended with Nugent-Hopkins putting a spinning backhander past Markstrom. Edmonton was 2 for 5 with the man advantage Friday. Calgary failed to capitalize on two power plays. The Oilers dominated the opening minutes Friday, hemming the Flames in their own end and outshooting the visitors 8-1 early, but Calgary was first on the scoreboard. Stone took a crisp pass from Andrew Mangiapane and unleashed a blast from near the blue line. The puck sailed through traffic and in past Smith 12:23 into the game. It was the Calgary defenceman’s first goal of the year. He last tally came on Jan. 5, 2020 when the Flames edged the Minnesota Wild 5-4. The Flames will be back in action Sunday when they host the Leafs. The Oilers are set to visit the Canadiens on Monday. NOTES: Calgary centre Mikael Backlund was absent from the lineup. The Flames say he is “day-to-day” with an undisclosed injury. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2021. The Canadian Press