Flames defeat Oilers, gain in North playoff race

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EDMONTON — Elias Lindholm scored two goals, and the Calgary Flames gained ground in the Scotia North Division with a 3-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Thursday.

Matthew Tkachuk had two assists, and Jacob Markstrom made 30 saves for the Flames (22-24-3), who have won three of their past four games and moved within four points of the Montreal Canadiens for fourth place in division. The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs

“We’re not in the position we want to be right now and we still aren’t even after this win tonight,” Tkachuk said. “We’re unfortunately doing a little bit of scoreboard watching as well. It’s a two-team race with Montreal, and Montreal is ahead of us with a game in hand. All we can do is keep winning and hope they lose some to make this very interesting down the stretch.”  

James Neal scored, and Mike Smith made 27 saves for the Oilers (29-17-2), who remained three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets for second in the division. Connor McDavid, who leads the NHL with 84 points (28 goals, 56 assists), did not score a point after scoring 15 (five goals, 10 assists) in his previous five games.

“We were sloppy with the puck, turned a lot of pucks over,” Edmonton coach Dave Tippett said. “Smith was really good in goal, gave us a chance, and we had some chances and didn’t bury anything.”

Lindholm gave Calgary a 1-0 lead at 6:04 of the first period, scoring on a one-timer from the slot off a centering pass by Tkachuk from behind the net. 

“I try to play the same way every game, and it seems to work [against Edmonton],” said Lindholm, who has scored 29 points (18 goals, 11 assists) in 27 games against the Oilers.  

Video: CGY@EDM: Lindholm nets Tkachuk’s one-timer from slot

Neal tied it 1-1 at 13:28 on a shot from the right wing under the arm of Markstrom. It was his fourth goal of the season and first against a team other than the Ottawa Senators. 

Neal was playing his fourth consecutive game after spending 12 of the previous 13 on the taxi squad. 

“I felt good. I think just playing consistent games in a row gets you back into the flow of things,” Neal said. “I feel like I’m getting my legs back at the right time.”

Lindholm deflected in a shot by Rasmus Andersson following a face-off win to make it 2-1 at 7:07 of the second period.

He then nearly completed the hat trick with 13 seconds left in the period, but Smith made a sprawling glove save to rob him on a 2-on-1.

“I tried to get it up and saw the open net, but he made a nice save,” Lindholm said. “That was probably my best chance in a long time. It’s funny how that works, two greasy ones in the beginning and then get a really good chance and it doesn’t go in.”

Dillon Dube pushed the lead to 3-1 at 12:08 of the third period. He scored into an open net after a shot by Milan Lucic went through the pads of Smith and slid along the goal line.  

“They shortened their bench so much in the last half of the game that [Leon Draisaitl] and [McDavid] were out there so much together, so they’re hard to play against and I think our defense did a good job,” Flames coach Darryl Sutter said. “The first period, I don’t think either team would say they were very sharp, so we were lucky to get out of it where we were in this building where it’s been tough to win. We’ll take the win and move on.”

Video: Lindholm scores twice in victory over the Oilers

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