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Flames hope to even season-opening series vs. Oilers

Johnny Gaudreau expecting 'great energy' from Calgary fans in home opener

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

OILERS (1-0-0) at FLAMES (0-1-0)

9 p.m. ET; SN360, SN1, NHL.TV

CALGARY -- The Calgary Flames are looking to even their season-opening home-and-home Battle of Alberta games against the Edmonton Oilers at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

The Oilers beat the Flames 7-4 in the first regular-season game at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Wednesday.

"They had some great energy there from their fans and we're hoping for the same thing from our fans here in Calgary," Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau said. "The home opener is always exciting for the team that's playing at home. You get a little bit extra energy from the fans and being in your own city.

"I think it's going to be some good energy for us. At the same time we want to create some energy in the city. It wasn't obviously the start we wanted in Edmonton. The home opener is big for us.

"Hopefully we can use that to our advantage and come out with a win."

Gaudreau's participation in Calgary's home opener was in doubt a week ago.

A restricted free agent, he signed a six-year contract Oct. 10 that reportedly is worth an average annual value of $6.75 million and a total value of $40.5 million. He missed all of training camp while contract talks were ongoing.

Gaudreau, 23, had no points and was minus-3 against the Oilers on Wednesday.

"I think it's going to take a little time to adjust to the high altitude, and adjusting back to the Mountain Time Zone rather than the East Coast," Gaudreau said. "Last game it was 10:45 [p.m.] when the game started on the East Coast for me. It's going to be difficult, trying to adapt to the time changes and stuff.

"When it comes down to it, personally, myself, I've got to be better and throughout the whole team we have to be better. This is an important game for us."

The home-and-home is the second time each team has opened the season with consecutive games against the other. They did so in 2006-07 when the Oilers won in Edmonton and then lost in Calgary.

"It's good to get these games in early," Oilers captain Connor McDavid said. "It's what playing in Edmonton is all about, that Calgary rivalry. It's good to get that out of the way early."

McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, had two goals and an assist Wednesday. The two goals came in a 2:16 span in the second period to break a 3-3 tie.

He had 16 goals and 48 points in 45 games last season.

"I'm just more comfortable," McDavid said. "That whole not knowing aspect of whatever it is with your day-to-day schedule is all gone. I definitely feel more comfortable in terms of every-day living, so that part's all good."


Oilers projected lineup

Milan Lucic -- Connor McDavid -- Jordan Eberle

Patrick Maroon -- Leon Draisaitl -- Jesse Puljujarvi

Benoit Pouliot -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Zack Kassian

Tyler Pitlick -- Mark Letestu -- Anton Lander

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Darnell Nurse -- Eric Gryba

Cam Talbot

Jonas Gustavsson

Scratched: Anton Slepyshev, Matthew Benning, Mark Fayne

Injured: Drake Caggiula (hip), Andrew Ference (hip), Matt Hendricks (lower body), Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Brandon Davidson (upper body)


Flames projected lineup

Johnny Gaudreau -- Sean Monahan -- Kris Versteeg

Matthew Tkachuk -- Sam Bennett -- Troy Brouwer

Micheal Ferland -- Mikael Backlund -- Michael Frolik

Lance Bouma -- Matt Stajan -- Alex Chiasson

Mark Giordano -- TJ Brodie

Jyrki Jokipakka -- Dougie Hamilton

Dennis Wideman -- Deryk Engelland

Brian Elliott

Chad Johnson

Scratched: Brett Kulak, Nicklas Grossmann, Freddie Hamilton

Injured: Ladislav Smid (neck)


Status report

Kris Russell, who spent parts of three seasons with the Flames, is making his return to Calgary for the first time since being traded to the Dallas Stars on Feb. 29. Russell signed a one-year contract with the Oilers on Oct. 7. … Eric Gryba, who signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Oilers on Wednesday, was recalled from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League on Thursday and is expected to play in place of Brandon Davidson. Davidson sustained an upper-body injury Wednesday against the Flames.


Who's hot

McDavid had three points, and Russell had two assists and was plus-3 against the Flames on Wednesday. … Backlund had two assists against the Oilers.

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