CALGARY — Jack Campbell and Dylan Holloway entered this NHL season with something to prove and both of them delivered on Friday.
Holloway scored the tying goal and Campbell made 34 stops as the Edmonton Oilers rallied late to win 2-1 in overtime over the Calgary Flames in pre-season action.
The winning goal for Edmonton (2-1-1) was notched by Brad Malone on a breakaway, who took a pass from Seth Griffith, went to his backhand, and slipped the puck through Dan Vladar's pads at 2:24.
But it never would have reached extra time if not for Campbell, who was excellent in his first action of the pre-season.
“I was a little nervous,” said Campbell, who played the full game. “I put a lot of work in this summer and wanted to do well and you know, just really excited to go out and have a good performance and just keep building on the things I've been working so hard on.”
Campbell won 21 games last season, but struggled to a .888 save percentage last in the first season of a five-year, $25 million deal he signed as a free agent. Come the playoffs, he watched from the bench as rookie Stuart Skinner was handed the crease.
“Jack played the way he expected to play, the way I expect him to play, the way our team expects him to play, which is he played great,” said Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft.
“He's done a lot of work to feel good about where he's at. I think this is a good start for him. It's an exhibition game in a tough building. He should feel very good about it.”
The Calgary-born Holloway was the most noticeable Oilers skater all night. The 2020 first-round pick opened last season in Edmonton, but as he struggled to establish himself, he was sent down to the minors in mid-February and never played another NHL game.
But so far this pre-season, Woodcroft likes what he sees.
“He can skate and he's a big man, he drives people back. I think when he focuses in on those gifts that he has and plays towards those strengths, he's tough to handle,” said Woodcroft. “We asked him to play higher up in the lineup tonight. He played more minutes in every situation. I thought he was effective."
With Edmonton's top-six forwards not having made the trip to Calgary, Holloway's role was increased and he took full advantage. He led all forwards with 21:35 in ice time. He had three shots and had other dangerous scoring chances that didn't result in shots.
In the first period, after a defensive zone faceoff, Holloway got the puck and burst up the ice, leaving behind fleet-footed Flames' defenceman Noah Hanifin. But as he cut across the front of the net, his backhand went wide.
“Confidence is feeling good, it just comes from a lot of preparation this summer,” said Holloway. “This team's got so many good offensive players that it would obviously be hard to compete right away but eventually I want to be a player that can generate offence myself.”
Elias Lindholm had the lone goal for Calgary (3-1-1).
Making his second start, Daniel Vladar made 26 saves for Calgary.
With Calgary up 1-0 late in the third, it looked like the Flames had taken a two-goal lead when Mikael Backlund scored on a slap shot at 17:22.
However, the goal was waved off due to Blake Coleman's incidental contact with Campbell in the crease that in the opinion of the referees prevented him from being able to try and make the save.
Calgary challenged the call and when it stood after video review, they were assessed a bench minor. On that power play — the Oilers fifth of the night — and with the goalie pulled to make it a 6-on-4, Holloway fired a shot past Vladar from the slot with 1:40 to go.
It looked again like the Flames had scored as the final second ticked off the clock in the third, but after another video review, the puck off the stick of Yegor Sharangovich crossed the line a fraction of a second after the buzzer went.
“Tonight was maybe one of the more disappointing nights,” said new Flames head coach Ryan Huska, when asked how his team is adjusting to the new systems he has implemented.
“We were way too passive in a lot of areas. And I thought we were way too much East-West and trying to play through people at the blue lines. So I thought tonight was a bit of a step back from what the guys have been done to this point.”
The night began with an emotional video tribute to Flames assistant GM Chris Snow, who is being kept on life support while organ donation is arranged. Diagnosed four years ago with ALS, the 42-year-old went into cardiac arrest on Tuesday after suffering a catastrophic brain injury. After, Snow was recognized with a moment of applause.
Solovyov and Matt Coronato were both playing in their team-leading fourth game of the pre-season — all coming in a span of six days. Coronato, a 2019 first-rounder, played on a line with Nazem Kadri and Dillon Dube. He is in his first pro season after two years at Harvard. Solyvov, a seventh-round pick in 2020, is looking to land a depth defenceman spot after playing the last two seasons in the AHL.
Oilers: Travel to Vancouver to take on the Canucks on Saturday.
Flames: The Winnipeg Jets visit the Saddledome on Monday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2023.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press