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Flames and Oilers renew Battle of Alberta

by John Kreiser /

FLAMES (17-18-3) at OILERS (12-17-7)

TV -- CBC (HD)

Last 10
-- Calgary 5-4-1, Edmonton 2-5-3

Season series -- It's the fourth installment of this season's Battle of Alberta. The home team has won each of the first three, with the Oilers winning 4-0 on opening night and the Flames winning 5-3 on Oct. 16 and 5-4 10 days later.

Big story -- The bottom two teams in the West start the new year by renewing one of the NHL's traditional rivalries. The Flames have had much the better of their provincial rivals during the last couple of years, winning nine of the last 10 meetings.

Team Scope

-- The Flames come to Rexall Place on a bit of a roll -- they're won three in a row for the second time this season. Calgary got a boost from its fourth line in Friday's win against Colorado, with both Tim Jackman and Tom Kostopoulos scoring a goal and adding an assist.

"They played extremely well again," coach Brent Sutter said. "They have just carried on the way they have been playing and that was just two huge goals for us tonight. I was very pleased with their play. It's an energy line that works and competes hard and does it to the details. They play the way we want them to play, and they were rewarded for it."

Oilers -- The Oilers were upbeat at Friday's practice despite losing their fifth in a row on Thursday night. That's what can happen when you lose 4-3 in a shootout, as the Oilers did to Colorado, after overcoming a 3-0 deficit to get a point.

"We felt like we battled pretty hard last night and could have come out with the win," center Sam Gagner told the Oilers' website. "At the end of the day, it's about winning and we want to stay focused and stay on the job. But I think part of turning this around is about being positive and making sure we're focusing on the right things."

Who's hot
-- Flames captain Jarome Iginla has goals in his last two games and a point in his last five. After a slow start to the season, Iginla leads the Flames in goals (15) and points (34). … Gagner has 13 points in his last 15 games.

Injury report -- Calgary defenseman Steve Staios is still out with cracked ribs. … The Oilers are without their best defenseman, Ryan Whitney, who went down with an ankle injury this week and won't be back any time soon. Another defenseman, James Vandermeer, has also been sidelined with an ankle injury but is skating.

Stat pack -- This could be an interesting goaltending matchup. Calgary's Miikka Kiprusoff 7-1-0 is with a 2.58 goals-against average in his last eight against the Oilers. Edmonton goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin has a 23-8-2-2 career mark against the Flames with a 2.26 GAA.

Puck drop -- Forward Linus Omark, author of one of the most spectacular shootout goals of the season was a casualty of the Oilers' battered blue line. Edmonton sent him back to Oklahoma City of the AHL on Friday and recalled defenseman Shawn Belle.

"He certainly took it as a professional and as an Oiler -- and as a guy that cares about this organization," coach Tom Renney told the Oilers website. "I think the dialogue that we had made it very clear that we care about him, too.

"Oftentimes when you're sent to the minors or whatever, you don't get an opportunity to make sure that's in place; that there's a genuine care and appreciation for what a guy's all about and what he's trying to do. Certainly today we were able to describe that to him and I think that helped things."

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