The Northwest Division-leading Calgary Flames would like to ring out 2008 with their first win of the season over the Edmonton Oilers.
The latest installment of the "Battle of Alberta" will take place on Wednesday night at the Pengrowth Saddledome, where the surging Flames meet the Oilers in the final game of the calendar year.
Calgary (21-11-4) is looking for its fourth straight win and sixth in seven games. The Flames are coming off a 2-1 victory over Minnesota on Monday as Eric Nystrom scored short-handed - his first goal in 25 games - with just over 11 minutes left to snap a 1-1 tie and delight the sellout crowd of 19,289.
"I don't score too many goals so to get that type of reception, everyone was so excited," said Nystrom, who registered his second goal this season. "I just had the adrenaline pumping right through me, it was awesome."
Miikka Kiprusoff made 22 saves for his league-leading 21st win. Though he's yet to beat Edmonton in two tries this season, Kiprusoff has been pretty successful regardless.
On Oct. 17, Kiprusoff gave up three Edmonton goals in a 9:35 span of the second period en route to a 4-3 loss in Calgary. The next night, he again struggled in the second, allowing three goals less than four minutes apart as the Oilers went on to sweep the home-and-home set with a 3-2 win.
Those defeats were part of a season-opening five-game stretch in which he went 1-3-1 with a 4.37 goals-against average. After that, Kiprusoff has gone 20-7-2 with a 2.53 GAA. He's also won six of his last seven road starts, posting a 2.12 GAA.
For the Flames to finally get a win over their bitter provincial rivals, they'll need captain and Edmonton native Jarome Iginla to rediscover his scoring touch.
Iginla tied a season-high with four points on Dec. 16 in a win over St. Louis. Though he's managed only three assists in five games after that, Iginla still leads Calgary with 16 goals and 24 assists.
When Iginla has at least one point in Calgary against his hometown team during his career, the Flames have gone 11-5-1 with two ties. If he's held off the scoresheet, Calgary has gone 5-8-0 with a tie.
The Oilers (17-15-3) may have been caught looking ahead to this game. They rallied from a pair of one-goal deficits, but their three-game winning streak was snapped on Tuesday with a 3-2 loss to Ottawa that gave the Senators their first win away from Canada's capital in 13 games.
"We didn't start as sharply as we needed to," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said.
Ethan Moreau and Liam Reddox scored, and Shawn Horcoff had two assists for Edmonton, which trails Calgary by nine points in the Northwest.
Mathieu Garon faced only five Ottawa shots in the third period, but surrendered Brian Lee's first NHL goal with 8:28 left for the winning margin.
Garon and rookie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, currently in the minors, have beaten Calgary this season. But with Garon having allowed nine goals en route to losing his last three starts, Dwayne Roloson - winner of three straight starts - could see his first action this season versus the Flames, a team he's struggled against in their building.
In 14 starts against the team he began his career with, Roloson has a 2.47 GAA, but is 3-8-0 with three ties.
A player Calgary may want to focus on stopping is Andrew Cogliano. Edmonton's second-year center has only 10 goals in 35 games this season, but has found the back of the net once in each game against the Flames.
C - EDM
G: 1 | A: 0
LW - CGY
G: 1 | A: 0
D - EDM
G: 0 | A: 1