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Flames aim to end Oilers' playoff hopes

by John Kreiser

FLAMES (15-21-4) at OILERS (16-17-7)


Last 10: Calgary 3-7-0; Edmonton 5-5-0

Season series: It's the fourth and final edition of the Battle of Alberta this season. The Calgary Flames won 4-3 on Jan. 26, but the Edmonton Oilers swept a home-and-home set last week.

Big story: The Flames know their season will end in a couple of weeks, and they'd like nothing more than to make sure their biggest rival also misses the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team Scope:

Flames: It won't mean much in the standings, but the Flames showed a lot of pride on Friday night by beating the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in overtime. The Coyotes, desperate for points as they scramble to stay in the playoff race, forced overtime on a late goal by Keith Yandle and had numerous chances to get the game-winner, only to be denied by Joey MacDonald. Mark Giordano scored with 23.1 seconds left in OT for the victory.

It feels great," Giordano said. "It always feel great to score no matter what, but obviously an OT winner, you don't get those too often, so it feels great."

Oilers: The Oilers routed the Flames 8-2 in Calgary on April 3, moving into the top eight in the Western Conference while embarrassing their biggest rival. But not much has gone right since then -- the Oilers haven't won a game and are barely hanging on in the playoff race.

They need to get that winning feeling back -- and quickly -- but coach Ralph Krueger expects to face a team that will be looking for some payback.

"The importance of that game is there," Krueger said Friday. "It's more about getting that winning feeling back. We don't have to work for it. They're going to react to how we played in Calgary. They're going to come into our building very very angry. We're not expecting an easy night.

Who's hot: Lee Stempniak, Calgary's leading scorer, had a goal Friday night to extend his points streak to four games. … Edmonton rookie Nail Yakupov, the first player chosen in last June's NHL Draft, has three goals and five points in his past five games.

Injury report: The Flames are without forwards Brian McGrattan (shoulder) and Matt Stajan (upper body). … Edmonton will be without forward Ales Hemsky, who's taking a week off to see if his broken foot will heal. Eric Belanger (groin) has started skating again but isn't ready to return; defenseman Andy Sutton (knee) is gone for the season.

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