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Oilers fight Flames on HNIC

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

For the seventh time this season and fourth time at Rexall Place, the Edmonton Oilers meet up with provincial rivals the Calgary Flames tonight.

Edmonton has dropped each of its last three games and now sits 11 points back of the eighth and final playoff spot. However, the team they're catching will be their opponents tonight in Calgary.

"We're getting scoring chances but we just can't seem to put the puck in the net," said Oilers forward Petr Sykora of the team's recent woes.

The Oilers have been having trouble finding the net with only one goal to show for the past three games.

"It's frustrating for everybody, the situation that we're in right now," remarked head coach Craig MacTavish. "We're going to have to start with a simple formula, rely on the structure of the game and get some offence."

Calgary has been one of the more difficult teams to figure out – nearly unbeatable on home ice but cant seem to buy a win on the road.

The Flames play 11 of its final 18 games on the road so if the Oilers can somehow close the gap between the two teams a little, they may be able to make a move up the standings against the league's worst road team.

At home, Calgary has a record of 27-6-1 but away from the Saddledome the Flames are 7-15-8. No team in the NHL has more home wins and no team in the league has fewer road wins than Calgary.

The Flames have not won on the road since defeating the Oilers 4-0 back on January 20 - a span of seven games.

Calgary exorcised one of its demons last game, winning its first shootout of the year. A late third-period goal by Robyn Regehr tied the game with Minnesota Wednesday night and Jarome Iginla's lone shootout marker was enough to power the Flames to a 2-1 win.

"It's been a while," said Iginla of his shootout goal. "I've been cold for a while but (Wednesday), for whatever reason, I was up and got fortunate. It went off the post and in. It's inches so it was a good bounce."

The Flames are in a battle with Minnesota and Vancouver for top spot in the Northwest Division. They're currently one point behind the Wild and two back of the division-leading Canucks.

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Jarret Stoll (concussion) is out. Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is out. Tom Gilbert (concussion) is doubtful. Daniel Tjarnqvist (inflamed pubic bone) is questionable. Marty Reasoner (shoulder) is questionable; Calgary – Richie Regehr (concussion) is out. Darren McCarty (sports hernia) is out.

OILERS TO WATCH: Dwayne Roloson has played in all but 16 minutes of the season series between the Flames and Oilers. In six starts, Roloson has a record of 2-4-0 along with a 2.70 GAA and .897 save percentage Petr Sykora is Edmontons leading scorer this season against the Flames with four goals and six points in six games. Ales Hemsky has five assists in six games to rank second on the club in points.

FLAMES TO WATCH: Miikka Kiprusoff has been stellar against Edmonton this season. In six games, he has a 1.50 GAA and .939 save percentage to go with a 4-2-0 record Kristian Huselius is enjoying a breakout season and is one of the most dangerous Flames when hes on his game. He had a 15-game scoring streak earlier this season which is the longest of any player in 2006-07. With 29 goals and 62 points in 63 games, Huselius has blown away all his previous career highs Brad Stuart has only one point in nine games since joining the Flames, an assist on Robyn Regehrs tying goal against Minnesota Wednesday.

FAST FACTS: The Flames are 7-1-0 when Tony Amonte scores a goal, 18-4-2 when Jarome Iginla dents the twine and 12-3-1 when Dion Phaneuf scores Edmonton trails the all-time series versus Calgary with a record of 76-80-19-1. At home, they are 46-31-10-1 against the Flames.
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