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Flames look to end scoring woes vs. Oilers

by Matthew Mankiewich
OILERS (2-1-0) at FLAMES (1-2-0)

TV -- CBC (HD)

Season series --
One bugaboo out of the way, one more to go. The Oilers beat the Flames 4-0 in last Friday's home opener, ending a six-game losing streak against their Alberta rivals. Now they have to try their luck in Scotiabank Saddledome, where the Flames hold a five-game winning streak. More important for the Oilers, though, is getting that first win of the season on the road, where they're 2-21-2 since Dec. 11, 2009.

Team scope:

Oilers -- Three games, three different personalities. One team manhandled the Flames 4-0 in the season opener, another rode Nikolai Khabibulin to an otherwise unspectacular 3-2 win over the Panthers and a third gave up four power-play goals in a 4-2 loss to the Wild in Minnesota, but actually played decently five-on-five. Still not enough, though, to prevent a 14th straight loss at Xcel Energy Center.

Everybody wants the first one, but coach Tom Renney is more realistic.

"I'd love to be able to tell you it’s more like our first Calgary game, but I think it's somewhat more like how we played in Minnesota," Renney told the Edmonton Journal. "We've touched some excellence at times but haven't been able to embrace it because we're young and feeling each other out and what we're capable of."

Flames -- What does a team with the lowest offensive output in the NHL last year not want to do? Start a new season doing much the same thing. With a 3-0 loss to the wayfaring Panthers on Thursday, they are the first team in the NHL to be shut out twice this season, and the top line of Alex Tanguay, Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen has yet to record a point.

The situation is urgent enough to warrant a 52-minute team meeting Friday that took up most of the usual off-day practice session.

"You've got to nip this in the bud," defenseman Ian White told the Calgary Herald. "We've had two real bad games here. We figured out to a man today what each guy has got to do better."

Who's hot -- Captain Shawn Horcoff has been the go-to guy these first three games for the Oilers. He's set the pace offensively with two goals and an assist and has been a calming influence centering a line with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall.

Injury report -- Horcoff and Colin Fraser did not skate Friday, taking a "maintenance day" as they had both blocked shots killing penalties in the Minnesota game. They're expected to be ready for Saturday's game. One small piece of good news in Flames camp is that nobody else got hurt in the Panthers game.

Stat pack -- Five-time All-Star and Flames captain Iginla's scoring drought extends back to last season. He's now gone nine games without a point and 14 without a goal, though he did have 2 goals and 2 assists in his last home game against the Oilers. The Flames collectively have outscored the Oilers 23-9 during their five-game home winning streak against them, and are 7-for-15 on the power play. Khabibulin, on the other hand, is 15-4-0 with a 2.20 goals-against average in Calgary, though he lost his only start there so far in an Edmonton uniform.

Puck drop -- "What we're trying to do is stay with the pack," Renney told the Edmonton Journal. "We're going to lose games, lose games ugly, win some silly ones where we don't play great, we'll look schizophrenic, but I want to stay with the pack until Christmas when we don't have any more rookies … where they know the League."

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