After a few days off for the holiday break, the Flames are back in action on the road on Thursday in Edmonton.
The team split their back-to-back set on Dec. 22-23 in Dallas and Minnesota, picking up a 5-1 win over the Stars before falling 3-0 to the Wild.
"We can be happy with some of the ground that we've made up from where we were 11 or 12 games ago, but at the same time, we can't be satisfied," interim head coach Geoff Ward said after the loss in Saint Paul. "We've got to make sure we come back in after the game focused. We've got a big, four-game point with Edmonton after the break as soon as we get back. We can take a few days and enjoy it with our families, but we've got to remember what's at stake when we come back from the holiday."
While the result in Minnesota wasn't what he wanted, Ward noted there were plenty of bright spots to build off in that setback.
"I thought we had a pretty good start. We knew (the Wild) were going to come hard with a push, based on what happened to them, being at home and having a bit of rest. We thought they'd come out hard - and they did. I thought we got through that OK. We were pleased with our first period. We came out of there pretty much even in chances and we just gave up a few too many slot chances in the second. We tried to fight our way back in the third, and it's unfortunate that the (Ryan) goal wasn't allowed.
"But at the end of the day, I wasn't disappointed with our start. We just had a few things that we have to clean up in our own slot. That gives us an opportunity to stay in the hockey game a little bit longer and have an opportunity to potentially come out even at the end of the second period."
The Flames currently hold the second wild card spot in the West with 43 points on the year but they trail the division-leading Arizona Coyotes by just three points and the Oilers, who are third in the Pacific, by just a single point.
Like the Flames, the Oilers head into the first installment of this season's Battle Of Alberta coming off of a loss. They dropped a 4-2 decision in Vancouver on Dec. 23, giving them a 20-16-4 record and 44 points on the year.
"It's the details of winning. If you're not willing to do them enough, you're going to lose some games and that's what happened," head coach Dave Tippett told the team's website after the loss to the Canucks.
"The break is going to be good for everybody," he added. "We've made some strides in the right direction. Now in the second half, it's going to get tougher. Some of those details of winning that we just talked about, we have to get better at."
The Oilers captain Connor McDavid leads his team in scoring with 21 goals and 62 points and Leon Draisaitl trails him with 22 tallies and 61 points. Zack Kassian rounds out the top three in scoring with 13 goals and 26 points.
In net, Mikko Koskinen has played the majority of games and holds a 13-7-2 record with a 2.66 GAA and a .917 save percentage. Former Flame Mike Smith has a 7-9-2 record with a 3.14 GAA and a .893 save percentage.
Friday's match-up will be the first meeting between the provincial rivals. The Oilers will make a stop in Calgary on Jan. 11 (limited tickets available HERE), the two clubs will face off again less than a month later when the Flames are at Rogers Place on Jan. 29, the action shifts back to Calgary on Feb. 1 (limited tickets available HERE), and the season series will wrap up at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Apr. 4 (limited tickets available HERE)
Last season, they split the series 2-2 and a Flame and Oiler were tied for the lead in scoring with four points each: Sean Monahan and Alex Chiasson.
David Rittich played in three games against Edmonton last year, posting a 1.68 GAA and a .938 save percentage against the Oilers.
4. THIS, THAT & THE OTHER
THIS: Elias Lindholm has a plethora of milestones within reach: he's six points away from 300, six games away from 500, and 12 assists away from 200. ... THAT: Eight Flames found the back of the net against the Oilers last year: Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm each scored twice while Johnny Gaudreau, Mark Giordano, Mikael Backlund, Mark Jankowski, Derek Ryan, and Oliver Kylington each had one goal against Edmonton ... THE OTHER:Noah Hanifin is one assist shy of hitting 100 in his career. The defenceman, who was drafted fifth overall in 2015 and is 22 years of age, has 125 points in the 358 regular season games he's played.
Monahan led all Flames in scoring against the Oilers last season, with four points in four games, and rolls into Friday's tilt with a pair of points in his last two skates. In 25 career games against Edmonton, Monahan has 9 goals and 18 points.
Oilers - Connor McDavid
Edmonton's captain and leading scorer is a threat every time he's on the ice and heads into the first edition of the Battle Of Alberta on a two-game point streak. In his past couple of skates, he has one goal and three points.