The Battle of Alberta is no stranger to some rough stuff and that was on display in Sunday night’s Game Three. The Edmonton Oilers took down the Calgary Flames 4-1 to give them a 2-1 series lead but that end result was a bit overshadowed by a play that occurred with more than half of the third period left to play.
The Flames Milan Lucic bowled over Oilers goaltender Mike Smith behind the Edmonton net with the score 4-0 in favor of the Oilers. The most obvious of all melees ensued and when the dust settled Lucic was handed a five-minute major for charging and thrown out of the game.
milan lucic takes a long run at mike smith and a massive scrum ensues. pic.twitter.com/KgWGOwLuuC
— zach laing (@zjlaing) May 23, 2022
Lucic goes on the forecheck pretty hard from the blue line in but does appear to let up when Smith makes a last-second spin move to play the puck up the boards. The “letting up” didn’t happen quick enough for Lucic to avoid all contact with Smith and you can see the end result. Six players in total, three from each team outside of Lucic were also handed roughing minors.
Deja Vu#StanleyCup | #BattleofAlberta pic.twitter.com/jhT7ELl9up
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) May 23, 2022
Smith was removed from the game and headed down the tunnel with Edmonton trainers to go through concussion protocol. Mikko Koskinen replaced him in net for a handful of minutes before Smith returned to the cage like a WWE wrestler coming out for the Royal Rumble. Hit the music, Vince.
Mike Smith gets a standing ovation as he returns to the game 👏 pic.twitter.com/UrIKgyWT9i
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) May 23, 2022
“I don’t think my head hit anything. My helmet came off, but I didn’t get hit in the head,” Smith said of the play postgame. “I didn’t really know what happened. I was playing the puck and the next thing I know I’m getting buried into the end boards.”
“It’s not an ideal situation to leave the game in the third period with 11 minutes left, but I get the reason for it,” he continued. “I think the player should have some say in that, but obviously it is what it is.”
While the Oilers surely agreed with the action the referees took, Flames bench boss Darryl Sutter obviously remained in the other camp.
“Could you imagine if Looch did charge what would have happened there? He actually tried to slow it down there I think, but it is what it is,” the veteran head coach told TSN.
Lucic is no stranger to controversy when it comes to “running” netminders. He famously took out the Buffalo Sabres’ Ryan Miller in 2011 and was assessed only a minor penalty for charging.
Lucic on Miller, not so long ago… pic.twitter.com/Y9Iebp2Mq9
— Ian Andrew Bell 🇨🇦 (@ianb) May 23, 2022
“I just stuck around because I wanted to say what a piece of s*** I think Lucic is,” Miller said after the game over ten years ago. “Fifty pounds on me, and he runs me like that? It’s unbelievable. Everyone in this city sees him as a big, tough, solid player. I respected him for how hard he plays. That was gutless. Gutless. Piece of s***.”
Game Four of this second-round series is in Edmonton on Tuesday at 9:30 PM ET.
Screenshot via Sportsnet
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