CALGARY, AB - The Oilers will wrap their 2018-19 schedule with a meeting against a very familiar foe when they converge on the Scotia Bank Saddledome tonight to take on their provincial rivals in Calgary for a Saturday Hockey Night in Canada matchup.
The Oilers will be looking to even the season series after Calgary came out on top in the first and third meetings between the two, with the Oilers lone victory vs. the Flames coming back on December 9 in a 1-0 shutout victory at Rogers Place with starter Mikko Koskinen making 24 saves for his third shutout and Connor McDavid potting the game's only goal.
Koskinen can make it two victories vs. Calgary on the year as he gets set for the start tonight.
QUEST FOR 50
With their playoff hopes officially extinguished back on April 2, the Oilers have still found a rallying cause in the form of the quest for 50 goals for forward Leon Draisaitl. The Oilers winger potted the only two goals in Thursday's night loss to the San Jose Sharks to bring him to 49, and anyone watching could see his teammates were hell-bent on getting him to the half-century mark that night.
Instead, he'll be chasing number 50 in game 82, and his teammates didn't shy away from the fact that they'll be looking to hit number 29's tape all night long.
"I'm going to do everything I can to help Leon get to 50. It's going to be a big night for him," Said d-man Oscar Klefbom.
"It will be a fun game to play in. To see him try to get 50 that will be pretty impressive and it's something to play for," said linemate Zack Kassian.
"I hope he's ready. He's probably going to play 30 (minutes) tonight," Alex Chiasson joked.
A 50th goal would put the German forward in an elite group of 50-goal scorers in the last decade with only Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Corey Perry, Steven Stamkos (two times) and Alexander Ovechkin (five times) accomplishing the feat since the 2008-09 NHL season.
Forever humble in nature when asked about personal success, Draisaitl still didn't discount how much the personal achievement would mean to him and how much support from his teammates is appreciated.
"I don't need to beat around the bush, it would be pretty special for me," said Draisaitl. "That speaks for our group, that no matter what happens, we help each other out. We get excited for people to hit milestones."
While the Oilers will be pushing for a personal milestone on their end, the Flames will be doing the same as Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau sits two points back of 100 on the season.
With forward Josh Currie being assigned to the Bakersfield Condors yesterday afternoon, it appears winger Brad Malone will be back in the Oilers lineup tonight with the D group remaining the same as it was on Thursday vs. San Jose. Forwards Jujhar Khaira and Kyle Brodziak didn't make the final trip of the season as they tend to some injuries back home.
Exact lines will be made apparent at warmup.
As the Flames gear up for playoff action starting April 10, it looks as though some mainstays in their lineup could be held out of Battle of Alberta action tonight including forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Sam Bennett and Sean Monahan who is battling an illness and appears to be a game-time decision.
With the Anaheim Ducks finishing their season on April 5 with a victory over the LA Kings to put them 7th in the Pacific Div, the Oilers are locked to finish in the eighth spot in the division despite a win or a loss in Calgary tonight to wrap their 2018-19 campaign.
Tonight's game is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Oilers and Flames. Edmonton is 1-2-0 in the Battle of Alberta this season, most recently losing 5-2 to the Flames on January 19.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers have gone 0-4-1 since defeating the Los Angeles Kings by a score of 8-4 on March 26. The club is 2-6-2 in their last 10 and rest eighth in the Pacific Division with a 34-38-9 record and 77 points.
Connor McDavid leads the Oilers in points with 116 - collecting the second-most points in the NHL this season - while Leon Draisaitl is second in League goals with 49 and fourth in points with 104.
The Oilers are 16-19-5 away from Rogers Place this season.
Flames team scope:
The Flames are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks but are gearing up for the playoffs, as the squad has first place in the Pacific Division locked up.
The Flames are 26-9-5 at Scotiabank Saddledome, 24-15-2 on the road and possess a goal differential of plus-64, which is second-best in the League behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, who are plus-100.
Forward Johnny Gaudreau leads Calgary in goals, assists and points with 36, 62 and 98, respectively. Captain Mark Giordano has the best plus-minus in the League with a plus-39 rating and netminder David Rittich has 27 wins on the season to go along with a .911 save percentage.
By the Numbers:
McDavid has 11 goals and six assists in 15 career games against the Flames. ... The Oilers Captain is averaging 1.51 points per game this season, trailing only Nikita Kucherov (1.56). ... Draisaitl has 16 power-play goals in 2018-19.
The Oilers are 22-13-4 when scoring first, while the Flames are 36-4-1. ... Calgary is 16-10-2 against the Pacific Division this season. ... The Oilers have the 10th-best road power play, going 22-for-107 for a 20.6 percent rating. ... The Flames are second League-wide in goals for with 288.
OILERS -Jesse Puljujarvi (hip) is on IR; Jujhar Khaira (undisclosed) is out; Kyle Brodziak (undisclosed) is out.