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Flames find the positive in loss to Oilers

EDMONTON — The odds are no longer in their favour.
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Calgary Flames defenceman Nikita Zadorov, right, picks himself up as Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane, centre, celebrates his goal with a teammate during first period NHL second-round playoff hockey action in Edmonton, Tuesday, May 24, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

EDMONTON — The odds are no longer in their favour.

Despite winning the first game of the first Battle of Alberta playoff series in 31 years against the rival Edmonton Oilers, the Calgary Flames find themselves on the brink of elimination three games later.

The Flames nearly evened the series on Tuesday when they came back from a 3-0 deficit — tying the game on a bizarre 132-foot short-handed shot from their own zone by Rasmus Andersson with 9:04 left in the third that somehow completely fooled Oilers goalie Mike Smith.

But Edmonton stormed back with the second goals of the game by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Evander Kane to win the game 5-3 and take a 3-1 stranglehold on the second-round series.

Despite the loss, the Flames are taking some solace in how they battled back to make a game of it.

“I like how we played,” said Flames head coach Darryl Sutter. “I know we’re in a hole, but it’s like saying we had to win on the road, now we have to win at home.

“We hung around tonight and we’re not going to go away easy and if they thought they were going to beat us easy, that wasn’t the case.” 

When it comes to Calgary’s chances to bounce back from a 3-1 deficit, the numbers are not kind.

Calgary is 0-9 when trailing a series 3-1, while in the history of the NHL teams are 296-31 in that sticky situation.

Don’t tell that to the Flames players, though.

“There’s a reason why we play seven (games),” said Calgary forward Mikael Backlund. “That quote has been said a lot this playoffs, but that’s the truth. We know we played well today. I think the game could have gone either way.

“We know we’re really strong at home and we have to start that one game at home and we know we are strong at home.”

Flames defenceman Andersson said he sees no reason his team can't rattle off three wins in a row just like the Oilers have and still win this series.

“We believe in our group,” he said. “Every single person in our locker room believes in it. There's no reason why we can't win three in a row, but it all starts with the next game. We've got to win that one and we've got to take care of home ice. It starts with one and we take it from there."

Meanwhile, the Oilers are 14-1 in series where they capture victories in three of the first four games.

Game 5 takes place on Thursday in Calgary.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press