CALGARY — Anders Nilsson turned aside every shot he faced on Monday night, but none were bigger than the save he made on Michael Frolik late in the second period.
Nilsson stopped 17 shots — including a penalty shot by Frolik late in the second period — to help backstop the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night in a split-squad pre-season game.
“He came in with pretty good speed there and tried to go back and forward and put it low blocker,” said Nilsson. “I don’t think that he got it high enough. I was able to save it with my pad. It was a good move, but I think he didn’t get the puck up as much as he wanted.”
Nilsson’s clutch save kept the score tied at 1-1 heading into the second intermission, which allowed Benoit Pouliot to score the game-winning goal at 17:08 of the third.
“It was a huge turning point in the game for us,” said Oilers assistant coach Jay Woodcroft of Nilsson’s save on Frolik. “We were on the power play. We got caught out on a long shift and to have him not only make the save on the breakaway, but also on the penalty shot, that was a big thing for our group. It emboldened us for the rest of the game.”
Mark Letestu and Justin Schultz, into an empty net, also scored for the Oilers. Ben Scrivens played the first half of the game in net for Edmonton and allowed one goal on 13 shots.
Although he was denied on his penalty shot, Frolik scored the lone goal of the game for the Flames earlier in the second.
“We did some good things, some bad things, but it’s the first game,” said Frolik, who admitted he was trying to beat Nilsson up high. “It bounced on me a little bit. It’s kind of my move but hopefully I have a couple more. Scoring in the pre-season is nice but, you know, I think I’ll save it for the regular season.”
Jonas Hiller started in net for Calgary and allowed one goal on 16 shots, while Joni Ortio stopped 12 of 13 shots he faced in the second half of the game.
The two Alberta clubs had another split-squad game happening in Edmonton at the same time, with the Oilers beating the Flames 4-2.
Shortly after Edmonton forward Greg Chase took a boarding penalty at 1:58 of the first period, the Flames appeared to open the scoring on the power play.
Parked at the right side of the net, Jiri Hudler sent a pass into the slot to Mark Giordano, who was driving hard to the net from the point. Giordano tried to kick the pass up to his stick, but it went into the net behind Scrivens instead prompting the referee to immediately disallow the goal.
The Flames opened up the scoring with a power-play goal at 6:07 of the second period when Frolik drove to the net and took a pass in stride from Johnny Gaudreau before snapping a quick shot to the top corner, glove side behind Scrivens. Hiller helped set up the odd-man rush with a nice up-ice pass to Gaudreau.
The lead didn’t last long as Letestu jammed in a loose puck in the crease behind Hiller to tie the game up at 1-1 just 48 seconds later.
Pouliot then completed the comeback for the Oilers when he took a pass from Jordan Eberle and roofed a shot past Ortio late in the third period before Schultz secured the win with an empty netter.
“In the last period there we shut them down completely,” Nilsson said. “They didn’t have much at all. The shots they had were from the outside. We had a very good last period and deserve the win.”
Laurence Heinen, The Canadian Press