Edmonton
Oilers
32-43-7
Calgary
Flames
43-29-10

24 SOG
24 SOG
1st2nd3rdT
EDM
CGY
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Oilers-Flames Preview

Sunday, 12.31.2006 / 4:00 PM

Associated Press

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Edmonton Oilers vs. Calgary Flames

Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff won his first Vezina Trophy and Dwayne Roloson led Edmonton to an unlikely Stanley Cup finals berth last season.

The latest episode in the "Battle of Alberta," though, features two goaltenders struggling to keep pucks out of the net.

Kiprusoff's Flames meet Roloson's Oilers in a New Year's Eve matchup at Pengrowth Saddledome on Sunday.

The provincial rivals have played three closely contested games this season, with the home team winning each time. The Oilers (18-17-2) have been victorious twice in Edmonton, limiting Calgary (18-14-4) to one goal in each contest.

The Flames posted a 2-1 home win on Oct. 7, and have been outscored 6-4 in the season series.

Edmonton also has had the upper hand in special-teams play. The Oilers have killed off all 21 short-handed situations they've faced and scored four goals on 17 power-play chances versus the Flames.

Kiprusoff has given up at least three goals in each of Calgary's last seven games - the worst such stretch in his six-year career. The Flames are just 2-4-1 in that span and tied with Minnesota for second in the Northwest Division, one point behind first-place Vancouver.

While Kiprusoff has played poorly, the Flames' offense has surged with 11 goals in their last two games and are coming off a 6-4 win over Los Angeles on Friday.

Jarome Iginla tied a season high with four points as Calgary bounced back from a home-and-home sweep by the Canucks. The goal was Iginla's 21st, but first in six games, and he has just one goal against the Oilers this season.

Calgary's Kristian Huselius had two empty-net goals, giving him 15 tallies in 34 games. He totaled 15 in 54 games last season with the Flames after being acquired in a December 2005 trade from Florida.

"That's a huge win for us to get the momentum here at home and get the confidence back and just keep rolling now," said Huselius, who has four goals and an assist in his last two games.

Roloson was given the night off in Edmonton's 6-2 loss to Vancouver on Saturday, but will be between the pipes for this contest - and looking to end a nearly three-week stretch of bad play.

Roloson has allowed 20 goals in his last four starts, including a season-high seven in a loss to Colorado on Dec. 19. It hasn't been any better for him on the road as he's given up 13 goals while losing four consecutive starts away from Rexall Place.

In three games against the Flames this season, Roloson is 2-1-0 with a 1.35 GAA, but he's not played well in the Saddledome during his career. In nine games, Roloson is 1-5-0 with three ties and a 2.28 GAA, and the win was a 3-0 shutout in November 2003 while with Minnesota.

Jussi Markkanen stopped just 19 of 25 shots, and rookie Marc-Antoine Pouliot and Shawn Horcoff scored third-period goals for the Oilers in Saturday's loss. Edmonton is tied with Colorado for fourth in the tightly packed Northwest, three points behind Vancouver.

"It's tough with it being this tight," Horcoff said. "We're not even halfway yet and we are already talking about how important these games are. That's what happens when the division is as tight as it is. We have to persevere. We've been through this before."

Edmonton has just two wins in its last nine games overall.

"Obviously, we are fragile right now," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "We have to build back and realize that our systems are our salvation."

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 07 '07EDM 3 at CGY 2P. Thoresen
Mar 03 '07CGY 4 at EDM 2D. Langkow
Jan 20 '07CGY 4 at EDM 0M. Lombardi
Jan 13 '07EDM 1 at CGY 3D. Phaneuf
Dec 31 '06EDM 2 at CGY 4D. Phaneuf
Nov 21 '06CGY 1 at EDM 2P. Sykora
Oct 07 '06EDM 1 at CGY 2M. Nilson
Oct 05 '06CGY 1 at EDM 3P. Sykora
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%