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Oilers, Flames aim to end slumps

by John Kreiser

OILERS (4-15-2) at FLAMES (6-10-3)


Last 10: Edmonton 1-8-1; Calgary 2-7-1

Season series: It's round one of the Battle of Alberta between the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. They split four games last season, with each team winning once in the other's building. Edmonton has won four of the past six games after the Flames took nine in a row.

Big story: It's been a tough first few weeks of the season for Alberta's teams. The Flames are 3-10-1 after a 3-0-2 start and are coming off a 7-3 steamrolling by the Dallas Stars at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday, their fifth loss in a row. The Oilers scored a goal at home Friday night after three consecutive shutout losses at Rexall Place, but their 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks was their fifth consecutive defeat.

Team Scope:

Oilers: The good news in Edmonton was that the Oilers finally scored a goal at Rexall Place; Nail Yakupov's power-play goal in the second period was the Oilers' first goal at home in four games. The bad news was that it was the only puck they were able to get past San Jose backup goaltender Alex Stalock, and it came after the Sharks had a 3-0 lead.

The loss dropped the Oilers to last place in the overall standings.

"We're all trying real hard," forward Taylor Hall said, "but there's something that's not clicking for us, and we have to figure out what it is.

"I've been around for so many losses that you kind of put yourself in a tailspin of wondering what it is. It's really hard. We're trying the best we can here, but we're not winning games. At the end of the day, that's all that matters. "

Flames: One day after watching his team get routed by the Stars, not only did coach Bob Hartley eschew a bag skate, he skipped any kind of skate. The Flames had meetings, video sessions and off-ice work, but they didn't hit the ice.

Hartley knows there's no guarantee he made the right move by giving his team a break. But after watching his team surrender four goals to Dallas' Tyler Seguin and six points to Jamie Benn, he felt he had to do something different.

"You have to make decisions," he told the media Friday. "What works, you don't know. I'll be able to tell you what we've done today, if it worked after [the game Saturday]. Right now, we can all look and we can be all experts after around 10:30 [Saturday] night. If it works, what a great call. If it didn't work, well, [I] should've bagged them."

Who's hot: Yakupov has goals in two of the Oilers' past three games. … Matt Stajan had two of the Flames' three goals Thursday. …

Injury report: The Oilers are without forwards Steve MacIntyre (knee) and Tyler Pitlick (knee), defenseman Justin Schultz (groin) and goaltender Richard Bachman (lower body). … Calgary is missing defenseman Mark Giordano (broken ankle) and forward Curtis Glencross (knee).

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