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At the Rink: Flames at Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid had a breakout performance in his first game against the Calgary Flames this season.

McDavid scored two goals and had an assist in a 5-2 win on Oct. 17, and has since been on a seven-game point streak.

Going into his second game against Calgary on Saturday at Rexall Place (10 p.m. ET; CBC, TVA Sports), McDavid leads the Oilers in scoring with five goals and seven assists for 12 points.

"I think the two things go hand-in-hand, when things are going well for the team, that's when individual success is going to happen," McDavid said. "I thought the team played well [that night against Calgary] and that meant a couple of guys were going to get a few points, which is always good."

McDavid had one goal in four games going into his first Battle of Alberta and, at the time, the Oilers were winless. The win against Calgary was the first of three straight for Edmonton.

"It was very special night," McDavid said. "I obviously watched a lot of 'Hockey Night in Canada' growing up and the Battle of Alberta was always being played. It's a game that I watched for a long time and that was pretty special playing in it, for sure."

The Oilers have won four of seven games since the win against the Flames, in large part because of McDavid. He had two assists in a 4-3 come-from-behind win against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.

"It's been going OK, I've been feeling more comfortable as the games go by," McDavid said. "I'm just trying to get into a rhythm and a routine. I'm feeling good."

Oilers coach Todd McLellan said the first game against Calgary was an awakening for the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

"I think that was the night where I believe I used the words 'gave himself permission to get going,'" McLellan said. "I think he realized that he can be a go-to guy on our team. He can be closer to the front of the bus, rather than to the back of the bus. He can do certain things in our game against the opposition and be successful. So he has more confidence, but also the guys playing to the left and right of him [Benoit Pouliot and Nail Yakupov] I think have felt that too, [Yakupov] in particular."

Edmonton ended a three-game losing streak with its win against Montreal; the Oilers trailed 3-0 in the first period.

Calgary lost to Montreal 6-2 on Friday, extending its losing streak to four games. The Flames did not have morning skate Saturday.

Goaltender Cam Talbot will make his fourth consecutive start for Edmonton. Goalie Karri Ramo will start for Calgary in the second of back-to-back games.

Here are the projected lineups:


Joe Colborne - Sean Monahan - Jiri Hudler

Johnny Gaudreau - Sam Bennett - Michael Frolik

Mason Raymond - Mikael Backlund - David Jones

Brandon Bollig - Matt Stajan - Josh Jooris

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dennis Wideman

Deryk Engelland - Dougie Hamilton

Karri Ramo

Joni Ortio

Scratched: Derek Grant, Ladislav Smid

Injured: Lance Bouma (leg), Micheal Ferland (lower body), Jonas Hiller (lower body)


Taylor HallRyan Nugent-HopkinsLeon Draisaitl

Benoit PouliotConnor McDavidNail Yakupov

Anton SlepyshevIiro PakarinenTeddy Purcell

Luke GazdicAnton LanderMark Letestu

Andrej SekeraDarnell Nurse

Brandon DavidsonOscar Klefbom

Andrew FerenceEric Gryba

Scratched: Mark Fayne

Injured: Jordan Eberle (shoulder), Matt Hendricks (foot), Griffin Reinhart (undisclosed), Justin Schultz (back), Lauri Korpikoski (head), Rob Klinkhammer (leg)

Status report: In an effort to get more offense out of the bottom of his lineup, McLellan made changes to his third and fourth lines. Pakarinen will move to center on the third line and Lander will drop down to center the fourth line … Fayne will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.

Who's hot: McDavid has four goals and seven assists on his seven-game point streak … Yakupov is on a seven-game point streak with two goals and seven assists. … Gaudreau has seven assists in his past six games.

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