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Flames visit Oilers in must-win game

by Deborah Francisco

FLAMES (37-28-11) AT OILERS (23-41-10)


Last 10 -- Calgary 4-4-2; Edmonton 2-6-2

Season series - These Northwest Division rivals have met four times this season with Calgary winning the last three meetings after the Oilers won 4-0 in Edmonton on opening night. They will meet once more, on April 6 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Big story - With the most games played in the league (76), the Calgary Flames are quickly losing time to gain ground in the Western Conference playoff push -- thus, the potential two points in this Battle of Alberta contest will be vital for Calgary in the final stretch of the regular season.

Team Scope:

Flames - Six games is all the Flames have left to make up two places in the Western Conference standings if they hope to make the playoffs. Every game is essentially a playoff game for the Flames, who went 0-1-2 in a three-game swing through California that ended with a 6-3 loss at San Jose on Wednesday night.

The Flames allowed four goals in the first period to the surging Sharks.

"We've been in a little bit of a rut in our last five or six games," captain Jarome Iginla said. "We're not coming out and playing as confident or assertive as we need to. In the first period to give up four goals is not going to win you many games. It's unacceptable. Obviously it's a tough loss at this time of year."

Oilers - Edmonton has eight games remaining and seven are against Northwest Division rivals. After starting March with three straight wins, the Oilers have dropped their last eight games, including a 4-0 loss at St. Louis on Thursday night.

The Oilers have scored just seven goals in their recent skid. However, they are also without several key players due to injury, including rookie Taylor Hall and center Sam Gagner.

"It's frustrating, obviously," forward Jordan Eberle said. "We've got some guys out that help us with offense but collectively as a group, we should be able to put the puck in the net. I think it comes down to getting the puck to the net first off and getting second opportunities."

Who's hot - Calgary's Rene Bourque has 3 goals and 6 points in his last five games.

Injury report - The Flames are without forward David Moss (ankle) and defenseman Adam Pardy (shoulder) who are both out indefinitely. Niklas Hagman is also out with concussion-like symptoms. … For the Oilers, defenseman Kurtis Foster is day to day after taking a rough hit from David Legwand on Tuesday but he says he is improving. Winger JF Jacques (foot), Shawn Horcoff (ankle) and Colin Fraser (foot) are all day-to-day. Hall (ankle) is out for the rest of the season, as are Gilbert Brule (concussion), Ryan Whitney (ankle) and Gagner (hand surgery).

Stat pack - Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester played in his 500th consecutive game on Wednesday, the longest current streak in the League and the longest by a defenseman in NHL history.

Puck drop - "There's still 12 points out there and 97 points can get you in the playoffs. We've got to get one win, and when that's over, focus on the next one.

"We're in a situation where every point is so big for us," - Calgary coach Brent Sutter.

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