EDMONTON – Elias Lindholm scored twice and Dillon Dube added a safe goal in the third period when the Calgary Flames defeated the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 on Thursday night at Rogers Place.
The victory put Calgary (22-24-3) four points behind the dormant Montreal Canadiens in the race for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division standings.
James Neal had the only goal for the Oilers (29-17-2), who were denied a third consecutive victory.
Edmonton is second in the north, nine points behind Toronto. The Maple Leafs posted a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks earlier in the night.
The Flames, desperate for points as the season ends, were physical from the start. Matthew Tkachuk set the tone with a heavy hit to Dmitry Kulikov behind the Edmonton net.
The Oilers struggled to clear the puck out of the zone before Calgary’s first goal. Tkachuk took possession and set Lindholm for a one-time beat that beat Mike Smith at 6:04.
Neal stopped Edmonton with his first goal since March 10. He had space on the ground and broke it under Jacob Markstrom’s right arm at 1:28 p.m.
Markstrom, in his 10th consecutive start, stoned Leon Draisaitl late in the period to keep the game tied.
Calgary regained the lead at 7:07 in the second period after Lindholm won a faceoff, moved to the net and deflected Rasmus Andersson’s point shot.
On the next turn, Neal nearly matched the greasers again. He broke in alone and tried to pass Markstrom, but the keeper made a good save with the glove.
Smith edged him out at the other end in the closing seconds of the period with a stop across the world.
Mikael Backlund threw a saucer pass to Lindholm on a short 2v1 break, but Smith, spread out and scattered, managed to get his glove on the shot to deny Calgary center the hat trick.
Connor McDavid and Draisaitl, one-two in the NHL scoring run, started buzzing more frequently in the third period, but Markstrom was up to the task.
Calgary made a two goal lead at 12:08 pm. Milan Lucic fired a shot that rolled between Smith’s legs and Dube hit the loose puck from a tight angle.
The Oilers removed Smith with two minutes remaining in regulation time, but they struggled to provide sustained pressure.
Edmonton edged Calgary 31-30.
The Oilers and Flames will meet again on Saturday in Edmonton. Calgary can match the 10-game season series with a win.