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Preview: Flames at Oilers

Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson out with lower-body injury; Calgary looks to close gap in Pacific Division

by Derek Van Diest / NHL.com Correspondent

FLAMES (23-20-2) at OILERS (22-15-7)

10 p.m. ET; CBC, NHL.TV 

 

Flames team scope

The Calgary Flames trail the Edmonton Oilers by three points for third place in the Pacific Division, with the Oilers having a game in hand. The Flames hold the first wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference. "I think at this point, every game is as important as the next," defenseman Deryk Engelland said after the Flames' 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Friday. "[Friday] was two points we really needed to stay in the hunt and [Saturday] is two more that we really need to get. We've got to get focused on that and get ready to go." The Flames, who did not hold a morning skate Saturday, lost their previous two games against the Oilers this season. Edmonton won the season opener 7-4 at home on Oct. 12, and won 5-3 in Calgary's home opener two nights later. "It'll be a fun one [Saturday] night," center Matt Stajan said Friday. "I know a lot of people have been looking forward to it, but it's a big two points. They're a team right ahead of us and we've got to try and get the two points we lost [Friday] and make sure we put in a lot better of an effort than we did." Calgary has not lost consecutive games since a 6-3 defeat against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Dec. 14 and a 4-1 loss against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 16. Flames goaltender Chad Johnson made 34 saves against New Jersey, but Brian Elliott will start. He is 8-10-1 this season with a 2.95 goals-against average and .889 save percentage. Stajan will play his 900th NHL game.

 

Oilers team scope

The Oilers will be without defenseman Adam Larsson, who sustained a lower-body injury blocking a shot in a 3-2 overtime win against the Devils on Thursday. This will be the first game Edmonton will play without Larsson this season. "You don't [replace him]," coach Todd McLellan said. "You put bodies in, but you don't replace him. You do things more by committee. Our pairs will be distributed tonight based on how they're performing instead of set pairs. You don't replace him, so hopefully, it's short term." Oilers captain Connor McDavid said: "They played last night and we can use that to our advantage. At the same time, teams play so many back-to-backs now that I think everybody is used to it, so it's not a big deal." McDavid will play his 90th game in the NHL and needs two points to reach 100. Wayne Gretzky and Blair MacDonald are the fastest to reach the milestone in Oilers history; Gretzky did it in 61 games and MacDonald did it in 85. Glenn Anderson had 100 points in his first 97 games with Edmonton.

 

Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau - Sean Monahan - Alex Chiasson

Matthew Tkachuk - Mikael Backlund - Michael Frolik

Kris Versteeg - Sam Bennett - Troy Brouwer

Lance Bouma - Matt Stajan - Garnet Hathaway

Mark Giordano - Dougie Hamilton

TJ Brodie - Dennis Wideman

Jyrki Jokipakka - Deryk Engelland

Brian Elliott

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Freddie Hamilton, Brett Kulak

Injured: Ladislav Smid (neck), Micheal Ferland (lower body)

 

Oilers projected lineup

Patrick Maroon - Connor McDavid - Leon Draisaitl

Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Milan Lucic - Drake Caggiula - Anton Slepyshev

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Zack Kassian

Andrej Sekera - Kris Russell

Oscar Klefbom - Brandon Davidson

Eric Gryba - Matthew Benning

Cam Talbot

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: none

Injured: Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Darnell Nurse (foot), Tyler Pitlick (knee), Jujhar Khaira (illness), Adam Larsson (lower body)

 

Status report

Khaira will not play Saturday because of an illness. He was recalled from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Wednesday and played his first game of the season for the Oilers on Thursday … Gryba will enter the lineup for Larsson, who is averaging 20:07 of ice time this season.

 

Who's hot

Backlund has 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in his past 10 games. … Tkachuk has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in his past 12 games. … Frolik has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in his past 10 games. … Maroon has six goals in his past six games. … McDavid has seven assists in his past five games. … Draisaitl has four points (two goals, two assists) in his past three games.

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