CALGARY FLAMES (22-15-8) at
EDMONTON OILERS (20-21-4)
6:08 p.m. MST
Rogers Sportsnet West
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Flames Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
Edmonton has a chance to not only defeat their provincial rivals tonight they can also climb back to the .500 mark and win their fourth game in four tries on their current five-game homestand.
The last time the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames met, the two teams were battling for position in the Western Conference standings. Edmonton at 7-11-1 and Calgary at 7-8-3. The Oilers have been a slightly above .500 team since that time but Calgary – on the strength of a hot December – has moved into a tie for top spot in the Northwest Division and solidly into a playoff spot.
In December, the Flames put together a record of 9-1-4 and then followed that up with three more wins to start the New Year. Last Tuesday was only Calgary’s second regulation loss in a span of 17 games. They followed that up with a shootout loss to the New York Islanders at home Friday night.
Calgary’s success can certainly be looked at by Edmonton as concrete proof that a hot stretch can get any team back in the playoff race. The Oilers’ play has been strong of late and if they keep it up a playoff spot is not out of the realm of possibility.
The Oilers are now five points behind St. Louis for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Northwest Division after winning their third straight on Thursday night, 5-2 over the Phoenix Coyotes.
This is the fourth meeting of the season between these two Alberta rivals and second at Rexall Place. Calgary won 3-1 in Edmonton and 4-1 at the Saddledome in Calgary while Edmonton won 4-2 in Calgary in November.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (11:42 AM): Flames head coach Mike Keenan said there will be one lineup change tonight for the Flames and that will likely be Marcus Nilson inserted into the lineup instead of Wayne Primeau... Adrian Aucoin, David Moss and Eric Nystrom remain out due to injury.
LINEUP UPDATE (11:05 AM): Joni Pitkanen will return to the lineup tonight after missing the last game with the flu. Dick Tarnstrom will be a healthy scratch... Mathieu Garon starts his sixth straight game tonight.
OILERS TO WATCH:
Mathieu Garon has started each of the Oilers' last five games and is 4-1-0 in those starts with a 2.14 GAA (11 GA in 309 MINS) & .931 save pct. (149 saves - 160 shots)... Sam Gagner
has done well against the Flames in his young career. Calgary is one of the teams his father Dave played for and he has scored two of his three goals this season against them. Gagner also has an assist for three points in three games… Shawn Horcoff
, named to the Western Conference All-Star Team on Thursday, also has two goals and an assist in three games against the Flames… Andrew Cogliano
has a goal and two assists against Calgary while Robert Nilsson, whose father Kent also played for the Flames, has a goal and an assist in two games.
FLAMES TO WATCH:
Jarome Iginla has been on an absolutely torrid pace since the start of December. From December 6 to January 5, Iginla scored 18 goals in 15 games. Through his first 44 games, Iginla had 32 goals and 60 points which put him among the league’s top three in goals and points. He’s on pace for 60 goals and 111 points which would both be career highs… Goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff hasn’t put up numbers that he’s been accustomed to this season with a 2.83 goals-against average and .896 save percentage but he still has 22 wins which puts him second in the NHL. On any given night, Kiprusoff can still steal a game… After reaching a career-high 34 goals and 77 points last season, Kristian Huselius is on pace to better those numbers this year. If he stays at the same clip, he will score 37 goals and put up 88 points. Huselius has scored 11 of his 20 goals in his past 13 games.
Edmonton - Joni Pitkanen (flu) is probable. Geoff Sanderson (back) is questionable. Matt Greene (ankle) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Calgary – David Moss (ankle) is out. Adrian Aucoin (groin) is questionable. Eric Nystrom (jaw) is questionable.
Calgary has been much better on the road this season than they were in 2006-07. The Flames are 12-7-1 away from the Saddledome and only 10-8-7 on home ice. Last year, it was reversed with the team holding a record of 30-9-2 at home and 13-20-8 on the road... With three straight wins at home, Edmonton's record at Rexall Place has improved to .500 at 11-11-1... The Oilers have now picked up a power play goal in five straight games, their longest such streak of the season. Previously, the Oilers had scored a power play goal in three straight games on two separate occasions... Calgary's power play on the road is 20.0% which ranks 7th in the NHL.
- Souray, Garon, Cogliano & MacTavish talk about tonight's Battle of Alberta. 700K
The Other Side
- Post-game notes, quotes and anecdotes - Notes, quotes and anecdotes from the Flames-Islanders game Friday at the Pengrowth Saddledome. ...more
- Flames hit the bowling lanes - The Calgary Flames hit the lanes this week to help raise money for Ronald McDonald House at the Rhett Warrener and Friends Celebrity Bowl. ...more
Item of the Game
- Tonight's item of the game is a Domination Long Sleeve Top. (Regular $59.99 on sale for $39.99)
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Autograph Session photos and video - On Saturday, every Edmonton Oilers player went to West Edmonton Mall to take part in the team's autograph session. The players were spread out across the mall at 11 different tables. View video and photos from the autograph session. ...more
- Listen to Jarret Stoll on Oilers Live - Oilers centre Jarret Stoll was this week's guest on Oilers Live. Hosted by Morley Scott, Stoll answered fans' questions for 30 minutes. If you missed the show, follow the link to listen to the podcast. ...more
From the Wire
The Edmonton Oilers have turned a January homestand into a mission to save their season. Their provincial rivals aren't looking to help the cause.
When the Oilers host the Calgary Flames on Sunday, they'll be eyeing their fourth straight win, which would be the longest winning streak for Edmonton in more than a calendar year.
Edmonton (20-21-4) had lost seven of eight and was fading from playoff contention when it began a five-game homestand on Jan. 5. The Oilers have won the first three at Rexall Place, though, to pull within five points of the Western Conference's final playoff spot.
They beat Phoenix 5-2 on Thursday, when they took a 3-0 lead in the first 10 minutes and went on to match their season high in goals. Mathieu Garon had 31 saves in net.
"We knew what a crucial point of the season this was," center Kyle Brodziak said. "Five games at home, especially playing some teams that we are going to be battling with for those last playoff spots. We knew tonight was a huge test and we did a good job in it."
Including a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders on Monday, the Oilers have outscored their last two opponents 9-2. Center Shawn Horcoff, who leads the team with 18 goals and 41 points, has two goals and four assists in the last three games.
The Oilers have also scored at least one power-play goal in five straight games - their longest such streak since they did it in six in a row in December 2005.
"We've talked about confidence being the most important thing in the game and getting the goal scoring we've had in the last two games really solidifies the confidence on our team," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "There are a lot of good things happening right now. We've got more confident players on the team right now than we've had at any point so far."
Edmonton hasn't won four straight since a five-game winning streak in November 2006, which also included their last four-game home winning streak.
But they've lost three in a row at home to Calgary (22-15-8), getting outscored 11-3 and going 0-for-12 on the power play in those meetings. They've also lost six of eight overall in the series.
Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff has a 1.82 career goals-against average against the Oilers.
However, the Flames have lost two straight following a five-game winning streak, including a 5-4 shootout loss to the Islanders on Friday. Calgary outshot New York 42-25, but Kiprusoff continued to struggle. He has a 3.57 GAA in his last three games, and a 2.85 mark for the season - nearly one-half goal above his career 2.36 average.
Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter said he is looking for a backup goalie to give Kiprusoff more time off, as he has started 44 of the Flames' 45 games.
"If we have any problem with our goaltending, it's that he's played a lot," Sutter said. "It's probably no different than anybody that's looking at an experienced goaltender, they're probably in the same boat as us. Experience gives you another chance if you are in the playoff race or you are fighting for the division title and it also gives everyone the confidence."
Calgary has won eight of its last nine road games.