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Battle of Alberta on New Year's Eve

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

As the Oilers schedule approaches the midway point, 2006 comes to an end tonight with Edmonton facing a familiar opponent in the Calgary Flames.

Both teams have had their struggles of late, Edmonton winning only once in its last six games and twice in its last nine with a three-game losing streak heading into tonight's contest.

Calgary, meanwhile, is coming off a 6-4 win against the Los Angeles Kings but that was the team's only win its last four starts. Overall, the Flames are 3-4-1 in their last eight.

The Northwest Division continues to be the closest in hockey with three points separating first from fifth. The Oilers are in a tie with Colorado for fourth in the division, two points back of Calgary though the Flames hold a game in hand.

OILERS TO WATCH: Raffi Torres is +7 in his last 12 games dating back to December 4 and is tied with Fernando Pisani for the team lead in plus/minus at +9. Torres is playing in his 200th career game as an Oiler tonight... Shawn Horcoff has a current four-game scoring streak with a goal and four assists for five points. He has also led the team in ice time in four of the last 11 games... Petr Sykora has been a Flames killer for most of his career and this season is no exception. In 20 career games versus Calgary, he has 13 goals and 22 points. This year he leads the Oilers with four goals and five points in three games.

FLAMES TO WATCH: Stephane Yelle is the only Flame with more than one point against the Oilers this season. Yelle has a goal and an assist for two points in two games.... Kristian Huselius has been on fire of late with four goals and an assist in his last two games... After a bit of a dry spell that saw him go without a goal for five straight games, Jarome Iginla had a four-point night on Friday against Los Angeles (1g, 3a)... Rookie David Moss opened his career with three goals in his first three career NHL games, tying a Flames franchise record set by Kent Nilsson and then later equalled by Dave Hindmarch. Moss has made up a solid third line along with fellow rookie Dustin Boyd and the veteran Yelle.

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton - Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Ladislav Smid missed Saturday's game but should be back in the lineup tonight; Calgary - Richie Regehr (head) is questionable. Marcus Nilson (leg) is doubtful. Roman Hamrlik (groin) is doubtful.

FAST FACTS: The Oilers' penalty kill has struggled a little the past two games, allowing five goals in that span but the team is now back on the road where they've had a lot more success killing penalties. Edmonton is tops in the league in the PK away from home at 93.7%... The Flames have also had their fair share of problems when down a man, particularly of late. Calgary has given up at least one power play goal in each of its last six games and overall they're tied for 25th in the league with a 79.6% efficiency rating.

NEW YEAR'S EVE: Tonight is the 10th time that the Oilers have played a game on New Year's Eve in their 27-year history. The club has generally not fared well on this day, with a 2-6-1 record. At home, the Oilers are 1-1-0 while on the road they're 1-5-1 on December 31... This is the third time that the Flames have been Edmonton's final opponent of the year with a 0-1-1 record in the past two games, including a 6-5 setback last year.
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