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At the Rink: Oilers at Flames

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames can set a new team record for consecutive home wins when they host the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; SN).

The Flames (16-16-2) have won 10 straight home games, tying the record set from Nov. 7-Dec. 12, 2006.

"We take pride playing on home ice and winning at home has just kind of just happened," forward Matt Stajan said. "We're obviously aware now of winning 10 or 11 in a row on home ice. We're just taking it one game at a time … it's cliché but that's all we're trying to do. Our goal is to get back into the playoff picture and we've done a good job doing that and home ice has been a key to that."

The Flames started 1-5-0 at home but haven't lost at the Saddledome since Oct. 30.

"Our game is coming around as a whole, for sure," Stajan said. "The results have shown. I think there's games we play really well but sometimes you don't get the breaks. One or two plays can be the difference in a game. Right now we're working hard and we're getting those breaks and we're getting rewarded. That's hockey. It's a fine line between winning and losing and you've got to make sure you're focused every shift and doing the little things and we're doing a good job of that."

Calgary and Edmonton were last in the NHL with 18 points through the first 24 games.

The Flames rebounded with an 8-2-0 record so far in December, including six wins at home. The streak has propelled Calgary to 34 points, two behind the San Jose Sharks for third in the Pacific Division and three behind the second-place Vancouver Canucks.

Improved play has been a focus for the Flames, but establishing a new team record at home hasn't.

"There's two ways to look at this," coach Bob Hartley said. "We can reflect on how bad our start was and thanks to the character we have in our dressing room we were able to bounce back. The second part is it gives us a chance to match ourselves with the Lanny McDonalds and all those guys that were here way before us. To put our name and to put our team beside those great teams is something special.

"But at the same time our priority is to be a playoff team. Records are nice, you can always reflect on them when you are retired and when you see other teams come in and beat your own records. For me, a win [Sunday] is giving us a chance to move up in the standings."

The Oilers (15-18-3) have lost four straight road games, including a 2-1 overtime defeat at the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. Edmonton plays six straight games at home after visiting the Flames.

Calgary, fifth in the Pacific, is one point up on the Oilers, who have played two more games.

"We got off to a slow start but we've climbed back and we're back to where we are," Stajan said. "This is the fun part of the season. You're in a race now right to the end. There's a lot of hockey to be played but it's going to be important right down the stretch and every point matters. We're just happy we're not chasing too much here, we're right in the thick of it. It's a credit to everybody on this team that we've been able to get back into it and home ice has been a big part of it."

Here are the projected lineups:


Taylor HallLeon DraisaitlTeddy Purcell

Benoit PouliotRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle

Matt HendricksMark LetestuLauri Korpikoski

Jujhar KhairaAnton LanderIiro Pakarinen

Darnell NurseAndrej Sekera

Justin SchultzMark Fayne

Brad HuntEric Gryba

Anders Nilsson

Cam Talbot

Injured: Connor McDavid (collarbone), Rob Klinkhammer (ankle), Nail Yakupov (ankle), Brandon Davidson (upper body), Oscar Klefbom (finger), Andrew Ference (undisclosed)

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Nikita Nikitin


Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Joe Colborne

Mason Raymond - Markus Granlund - Jiri Hudler

Sam Bennett - Mikael Backlund - Micheal Ferland

Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - David Jones

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Dougie Hamilton

Dennis Wideman - Deryk Engelland

Karri Ramo

Jonas Hiller

Injured: Michael Frolik (upper body)

Scratched: Brandon Bollig, Josh Jooris, Ladislav Smid

Status report: Edmonton did not skate Sunday. Nilsson will start for the Oilers. Edmonton placed Davidson on injured reserve and recalled defenseman Brad Hunt from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. …Wideman did not participate in the morning skate but is expected to play. Ramo will make his sixth consecutive start for the Flames.

Who's hot: Hall has four assists in his past three games and two goals and six points in two games against the Flames this season. …Gaudreau has 13 goals and 20 points during Calgary's 10-game home winning streak. Giordano has four assists and five points in his past three games.

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