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AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oilers started game day with morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. Although Shawn Horcoff and Colin Fraser missed Friday's practice to heal injuries suffered the previous game, the centermen were back on the ice Saturday.
"The extra day helped to get the swelling out of there and it feels good today," Horcoff said after the skate.
One notable change to the Oilers line-up is the re-addition of enforcer Steve MacIntyre. In the season-opening Battle of Alberta October 7, MacIntyre thrilled fans by knocking out Calgary's Raitis Ivanans in a fight. Oilers Head Coach Tom Renney added that he had not yet decided if Zack Stortini will also dress vs. the Flames.
WILD BEHIND THEM, FLAMES AHEAD
After suffering their first loss of the season Thursday night vs. the Wild, the Oilers are looking to get back in the win column tonight. With only three goals in three games, the Flames have struggled out of the gate, but the Oilers aren't taking their provincial rivals lightly.
"They're a much better team than their record would suggest, and I know they believe that inside, and so they should," Renney said. "We have to man up. This is one of those games where we really have to perform well in every aspect of the game in order to have success."
"We know they're going to come out hard -- they always do -- and they'll be extra motivated tonight," captain Shawn Horcoff explained. "I think for us it's just going to be able to manage the first part of the game, not really try to give them any easy offence, and just a good, hard skate and an aggressive game."
One area in which the club will need to improve is penalty killing. The Oilers allowed four power-play goals vs. the Wild, a situation none of the players want to repeat.
"[The Wild] capitalized on our mistakes there, but first and foremost it starts by doing a better job of just staying out of the box," Horcoff continued. "We gave them too many power-plays at a time when we pretty much took the game over and we had them in a good spot there. We take a couple penalties and they score back-to-back, and that was pretty much the story."
"It starts with staying out of the box, but at the same time, myself included, the killers have got to be better and we've got to kill those off," he said. "You can't give up four PK goals in a game and expect to win."
HALL IN HOMETOWN
The Oilers always have a lot of fan support when they play in Calgary, but tonight's game will receive an extra jolt of copper and blue thanks to Taylor Hall. The first-overall pick grew up in Calgary and is looking forward to playing his first regular-season game in front of friends and family at the Saddledome.
"I've learned so far that every NHL game is a lot of fun and there's a lot of firsts for me here, but definitely coming back to my home town and the place where I grew up is a lot of fun," Hall said. "I have a lot of friends coming to the game and it's going to be nice to play. Hopefully we can get the win."
REMATCH VS. MINNY
Following tonight's game, the Oilers will fly north to Edmonton and prepare for their next game, a rematch vs. Minnesota Thursday, October 21.
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-- Jen Sharpe, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (2-1-0) at FLAMES (1-2-0)
TV -- CBC (HD)
Season series -- One bugaboo out of the way, one more to go. The Oilers beat the Flames 4-0 in last Friday's home opener, ending a six-game losing streak against their Alberta rivals. Now they have to try their luck in Scotiabank Saddledome, where the Flames hold a five-game winning streak. More important for the Oilers, though, is getting that first win of the season on the road, where they're 2-21-2 since Dec. 11, 2009.
Oilers -- Three games, three different personalities. One team manhandled the Flames 4-0 in the season opener, another rode Nikolai Khabibulin to an otherwise unspectacular 3-2 win over the Panthers and a third gave up four power-play goals in a 4-2 loss to the Wild in Minnesota, but actually played decently five-on-five. Still not enough, though, to prevent a 14th straight loss at Xcel Energy Center.
Everybody wants the first one, but coach Tom Renney is more realistic.
"I'd love to be able to tell you it’s more like our first Calgary game, but I think it's somewhat more like how we played in Minnesota," Renney told the Edmonton Journal. "We've touched some excellence at times but haven't been able to embrace it because we're young and feeling each other out and what we're capable of."
Flames -- What does a team with the lowest offensive output in the NHL last year not want to do? Start a new season doing much the same thing. With a 3-0 loss to the wayfaring Panthers on Thursday, they are the first team in the NHL to be shut out twice this season, and the top line of Alex Tanguay, Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen has yet to record a point.
The situation is urgent enough to warrant a 52-minute team meeting Friday that took up most of the usual off-day practice session.
"You've got to nip this in the bud," defenseman Ian White told the Calgary Herald. "We've had two real bad games here. We figured out to a man today what each guy has got to do better."
Who's hot -- Captain Shawn Horcoff has been the go-to guy these first three games for the Oilers. He's set the pace offensively with two goals and an assist and has been a calming influence centering a line with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.
Injury report -- Horcoff and Colin Fraser did not skate Friday, taking a "maintenance day" as they had both blocked shots killing penalties in the Minnesota game. They're expected to be ready for Saturday's game. One small piece of good news in Flames camp is that nobody else got hurt in the Panthers game.
Stat pack -- Five-time All-Star and Flames captain Iginla's scoring drought extends back to last season. He's now gone nine games without a point and 14 without a goal, though he did have 2 goals and 2 assists in his last home game against the Oilers. The Flames collectively have outscored the Oilers 23-9 during their five-game home winning streak against them, and are 7-for-15 on the power play. Khabibulin, on the other hand, is 15-4-0 with a 2.20 goals-against average in Calgary, though he lost his only start there so far in an Edmonton uniform.
Puck drop -- "What we're trying to do is stay with the pack," Renney told the Edmonton Journal. "We're going to lose games, lose games ugly, win some silly ones where we don't play great, we'll look schizophrenic, but I want to stay with the pack until Christmas when we don't have any more rookies … where they know the League."
Matthew Mankiewich - NHL.com