For the final time this season, the Edmonton Oilers take the ice as they meet the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary.
The Oilers haven't had a lot to play for over the past two or three weeks but tonight they have an opportunity to put a massive dent in the Calgary Flames' playoff hopes. A win by the Oilers coupled with a victory by Colorado in Nashville would set up a showdown tomorrow afternoon between the Flames and Avs for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
"I don't get my jollies from other peoples' misery, but we want to win the game to stop our own and I just think it's important for the integrity of the game to put your best effort forth in meaningful games," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish.
Since February 23, the Oilers have only won once - ironically, helping the Flames in a 4-3 shootout win against Colorado several weeks ago.
"We want to do our best to win the hockey game. We haven't been very good at it lately, but we'll go out and play hard," MacTavish said. "Obviously, Calgary likes their chances but you never know in these situations. These games are tough."
On the other side, the Calgary Flames never thought they would be in this situation. With only one win needed to eliminate the Avalanche, they dropped a game to the Avs earlier this week and then fell 4-3 to the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.
"I think Edmonton's going to do whatever they can to win," Flames forward Kristian Huselius told the Calgary Herald. "They probably want to destroy our playoff hopes. We have to make sure that we're ready to go. Biggest game of the year. We're looking forward to it. It's going to be exciting. We're going to have a big home crowd to cheer for us."
The Flames have been remarkable at home this season with a record of 30-8-2 - the only NHL team to reach 30 victories on home ice this season. But that ninth loss may be enough to send the team to the postseason sidelines.
"It's about winning that one game," said captain Jarome Iginla following Thursday's loss. "Sure, we've got to be better in this game, that game, whatever. But from this point on, it's just about winning the next game. And that's the whole year."
The 2006-07 season started with an Edmonton win over Calgary. If it could end the same way that could take some of the sting out of everything that happened in between.
ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Shawn Horcoff
is questionable. Mathieu Roy (concussion) is doubtful. Jarret Stoll (concussion) is out. Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Steve Staios (knee) is out. Daniel Tjarnqvist (sports hernia) is out. Jan Hejda (shoulder) is out. Petr Nedved (knee) is out; Calgary – Darren McCarty (hip) is doubtful. Richie Regehr (concussion) is out.