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The home team has won all four games thus far this season in the "Battle of Alberta." Heading into Saturday's game at the Pengrowth Saddledome, that suits the Calgary Flames just fine as they host the Edmonton Oilers.
The provincial rivals are separated by just four points in the tightly packed Northwest Division, with Calgary holding the lead and Edmonton in fourth place. But the Flames (23-15-4) have been playing some of their best hockey of the season and enter this game having won four in a row and six of their last seven, including a 4-2 victory over the Oilers (21-19-4) on Dec. 31 at the Saddledome.
The Flames are coming off perhaps their best road game of the season, a 7-3 rout of the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Daymond Langkow had two goals and an assist in a four-goal second period for Calgary, which has outscored opponents 31-18 in the last seven games, a figure made more impressive with leading scorer Jarome Iginla missing the last three due to a sprained knee ligament.
"Since Jarome's been out, I think guys realize that we need to pick it up," said Langkow, who is second on the team with 46 points and has two goals and four assists in the three games since Iginla's injury. "Everybody did an incredible job."
However, areas of concern remain for the Flames. They allowed three power-play goals Thursday and have given up nine goals in 39 penalty kills over their last seven games. Conversely, Calgary's power play has generated just four goals in 36 opportunities in that span and went 0-for-3 Thursday, but Jim Playfair's club did net two short-handed goals.
"I can't remember a game like that," said Langkow, who scored one of the short-handed goals to make it 4-2 midway through the second period. "Those short-handed goals made it a weird game."
Additionally, Calgary's special teams have struggled against Edmonton this season. The Flames are 1-for-27 (3.7 percent) on the power play versus the Oilers and have allowed six man-advantage goals in 24 opportunities.
The Oilers failed to register a point for the first time in six games on Friday, losing 4-2 at home to the Minnesota Wild. While Shawn Horcoff and Petr Sykora scored second-period goals, Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish lamented the fact his team let two points slip away.
"We had a lot of aspects of our game that were really good, especially in the first 30 minutes," he said. "We let them back in the game. We should have won with the amount of chances that we had."
MacTavish also was upset with his team's inability to win games against Northwest rivals as the Oilers are 0-5-1 in their last six contests versus division opponents.
"If you have thoughts of winning the division you are going to have to have a good record against your division," he said. "Losing six in a row isn't a way to get that started."
Calgary has gotten at least one point in nine consecutive home games against Edmonton since a 5-2 loss on March 11, 2003. The Oilers are 1-7 with one tie in that span, the lone victory coming 2-1 in a shootout on Nov. 25, 2005.