The Edmonton Oilers came away with a hard-fought 5-3 win over the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday, but one of the big stories from the contest was the questionable goaltending play.
Just 21 seconds into the game, Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom was attempting to play the puck from behind the net. When he attempted to pass the puck to a teammate, he didn’t quite get enough power on it and gave it to Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who was able to deposit it into the back of the net from a challenging angle.
As strange as that blunder was from Markstrom, this game got even weirder in the third period.
It started when Oilers winger Evander Kane lost the puck as he entered the Flames zone. In an effort to clear the zone, Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson slapped the puck the length of the ice. But the clear was actually on net, and it somehow fooled Oilers goaltender Mike Smith and crossed the goal line.
The goal proved to be huge at the time, as it tied the game 3-3. The Oilers had scored the first three goals of Game 4 and held a 3-0 lead before completely squandering it. Despite Smith’s blunder of epic proportions, Edmonton was still able to rebound. Nugent-Hopkins made his presence known once again as he deposited a rebound off a shot from teammate Tyson Barrie past Markstrom to give the Oilers a 4-3 lead with just over three minutes to go.
The Oilers ended up adding an empty-net goal courtesy of Kane to cement the victory.
Markstrom has had his fair share of struggles throughout the Western Conference Semifinals. The Flames netminder, who is a Vezina Trophy finalist, has allowed at least four goals in each of the four games throughout the series. He even ended up being pulled in Game 1 after yielding three goals in the opening six minutes.
Smith has proved to be the superior goalie — despite Tuesday’s blunder. The Oilers goaltender hasn’t surrendered more than three goals in any of the four games during the series.
With the Oilers leading the Flames 3-1 in the series, it appears that whichever goaltender shows up the rest of the way will give their team a huge advantage.