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Oilers try to end drought against Flames

by John Kreiser /

OILERS (14-12-3) at FLAMES (13-13-2)


: Edmonton 4-5-1; Calgary 5-4-1

Season Series : It's round three of the Battle of Alberta, with the provincial rivals meeting for the second straight Saturday night. The Flames have won both games this season, including a 5-3 victory at Edmonton a week ago, and haven't lost to the Oilers since opening night of the 2009-10 season.

Big Story: The old adage says that "familiarity breeds contempt" -- but these two teams don't need any help disliking each other. The Oilers are still burning after blowing an early 2-0 lead in the loss to Calgary last Saturday, though they're coming to Scotiabank Saddledome on a positive note after beating Colorado 4-1 at home on Friday. The Flames have won twice at home this week and beat the Avs 3-2 on Thursday night.

Team Scope:

Oilers: It may seem like Sam Gagner is a 10-year veteran. But he's still only 22 -- and he often gets lost in the Oilers' array of young talent. Gagner had just one goal this season before connecting twice in Friday's 4-1 win against Colorado. He knows he has to contribute more offensively and hopes Friday is a good start.

"It definitely feels good to turn things around," he said. "There have been times this year where it has been frustrating. You want to contribute to the wins and I have felt like the last little while I have been playing better. It's a good feeling."

Flames: After an inconsistent start, the Flames feel they're headed in the right direction. A third consecutive win against their archrival would be a season first -- and would get them over .500 for the first time in 2011-12. They've missed all four chances to get there so far this season.

"We've worked hard to get back to this point and now we're right in the hunt. We're right close to the (playoff) pack now," coach Brent Sutter said after Friday's practice, according to the Calgary Sun. "We need to continue to win games to get in there.

"As you go along, you can't be a .500 team and think you're gonna make playoffs. You've got to start building on it."

Who's Hot: Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has eight points during a six-game points streak that includes a pair of assists on Friday. He leads all rookies with 32 points. Jordan Eberle also has eight points in his last six games. Gagner has 10 points in his last nine games. … Calgary center Brendan Morrison is showing he still has something left in the tank with six points in his last two games.

Injury Report: The Oilers are still without forward Taylor Hall (shoulder) and defensemen Ladislav Smid (upper body), Corey Potter (ankle) and Cam Barker (ankle). Another defenseman, Andy Sutton, is suspended indefinitely. … Calgary defensemen Mark Giordano (torn leg tendon) and Anton Babchuk (hand), backup goalie Henrik Karlsson (knee) and forward David Moss (foot) are on IR.

Stat Pack: Last Saturday's win was the Flames' 100th in the regular season against their bitterest rival since moving to Calgary in 1980. But while the Flames have the regular-season edge, the Oilers and their fans are glad to remind everyone that they've won five Stanley Cups to Calgary's one. … Calgary was 1-for-35 on the power play before cashing in both ends of a double minor in the third period against Colorado on Thursday.

Puck Drop: To say the Battle of Alberta has been one-sided in the last couple of years would be an understatement. Calgary has won the last seven meetings and 14 of the last 15. The Oilers have dropped their last nine visits to the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Breaking that streak won't be easy for an Edmonton team that had lost five of six before beating the struggling Avalanche.

"We have to be focused and ready to take on the Flames," Nugent-Hopkins said.

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