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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers vs. Flames 02.20.21

Round 3 of the Battle of Alberta gets under way Saturday at Rogers Place

by Paul Gazzola / EdmontonOilers.com

Oilers pre-game coverage is presented by SkipTheDishes

The Oilers and Flames conclude a home-and-home Battle of Alberta series Saturday at Rogers Place.

You can watch the game on Sportsnet & CBC or listen on the Oilers Radio Network, including 630 CHED.

Video: OILERS TODAY | Pre-Game vs CGY 02.20.21

INSIDE THE OILERS

News and notes from the Oilers organization, including roster moves and extended game coverage.

>> READ MORE IN THE INSIDE THE OILERS BLOG

PRE-GAME REPORT

EDMONTON, AB - After an airtight Friday night Battle of Alberta, Saturday will pit the provincial rivals in the ring at Rogers Place.

The Orange & Blue skated away pleased with the collective effort they administered at the Scotiabank Saddledome. The 2-1 winning outcome was a result of depth contributions and a solid defensive performance as the club improved to 5-2-0 in one-goal games.

"We're doing some things that I think give us the best chance to win," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We think hard about how we want to play in certain situations and most of the time, we can execute that. If we do, it gives you a better chance to win the game."

Edmonton held a one-goal lead heading into the final frame and kept the Flames from producing much offensively in the third period. The stingy showing lifted the Oilers to 9-1-0 when ahead after 40 minutes. 

"I thought we played a strong third period," Tippett said. "We had a couple of great chances that could have pushed the game along but we didn't give them much. I don't mind the way we've played, especially with the lead lately."

The Oilers aren't dwelling on the result, knowing a rebuttal from the highly-motivated Flames is expected.

"We have to reset for tonight," the Oilers coach added. "We're going to have to play a stronger game. They're going to be a desperate team."

Video: PRE-RAW | Dave Tippett 02.20.21

JESSE'S GOAL

The Oilers emphasized the importance of jumping out to the lead on the road Friday. And just 5:41 into the match, Jesse Puljujarvi put Edmonton ahead with a 5-hole slip under netminder David Rittich's pads.

Puljujarvi tallied his fifth goal of the year and saw 14:23 of ice time the rest of the way. The Finnish forward collected his eighth point and provided the team with the spark they needed early. 

The 6-foot-4, 201-pounder continues to be a positive source of offence and energy to the Oilers club in the 2020-21 campaign after reconciling with the organization during the off-season.

"I'm sure it wasn't an easy thing for him because the last time he was here the whole situation was a struggle for him," Tippett said of the 22-year-old.

"Talking to people about it, he was just a young guy unsure of himself. Now, he fits in so well and looks so sure of himself. It's hard to believe that it was any other way."

The fourth-overall selection from the 2016 NHL Draft has complemented his first-overall linemates Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Connor McDavid well, scoring six points in his last seven games.

"His work ethic is excellent," Tippett added. "He's hunting pucks down, starting to shoot the puck well and going to the net. It's great to see him get rewarded for that."

Video: PRE-RAW | Jesse Puljujärvi 02.20.21

LINEUP NOTES

Tippett confirmed Mikko Koskinen would protect the blue paint Saturday, making his 14th start of the year.

Despite expressing his desire to stick with the same group as Friday, Tippett did say some injuries could prevent that from happening.

"I'd like to go back to the same lineup but we'll see if there are a couple of changes that are necessary because of injury."

Stay tuned to EdmontonOilers.com for roster moves ahead of the game. Lines and defence pairings will be made apparent during warmups.

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com 

PREVIEW

OILERS (11-8-0) vs. FLAMES (8-8-1)

TV: 8:00 p.m. MT; Televised on Sportsnet & CBC

Oilers Team Scope

Jesse Puljujarvi opened the scoring and Gaetan Haas tallied the game-winning goal as the Oilers defeated the Flames 2-1 Friday at the Scotiabank Saddledome. With the victory, Edmonton levelled the season series and vaulted to 2nd in the North Division.

The Oilers are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, averaging 3.90 goals for and 2.80 against. The club's special teams are clicking at 28.1 percent on the power play and 80 percent rate on the penalty kill during the segment.

"Right now, everybody is on the same page," Ryan Nugent-Hopkins said. "The systems are there and the structure is there. Everybody has faith in each other and if something does break down, we know we have each other covered."

Flames Team Scope

The Flames suffered their second consecutive loss after dropping Friday's Battle of Alberta. Calgary's record dropped to 8-8-1 and 5-5-0 in their last 10 outings. The squad currently rests fifth in the North Division with 17 points and a .500 points percentage through 17 games.

Calgary is 2-3-0 in their last five outings and is averaging two goals per game during that time. The team is 0-1-0 in the second game of a back-to-back this year, losing 3-2 to Winnipeg on Feb. 2. Last season, the Flames went 5-4-0 in the tail-end of a back-to-back.

Johnny Gaudreau leads the club with nine goals and 17 points on the year. Elias Lindholm is behind him with five goals, 11 assists and 16 points. Netminder Jacob Markstrom is 8-5-1 in 2020-21 with a 2.61 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. Centre Sean Monahan was a late scratch in Friday's game against Edmonton as he deals with a lower-body injury.

Head-to-Head:

Saturday's game marks the third of 10 Battle of Albertas in '20-21. Calgary took the first game by a 6-4 score back on Feb. 6. Edmonton knotted the series up with the 2-1 advantage on Friday. 

Tyson Barrie has two goals and 19 points in 25 career games versus the Flames. James Neal has seven goals and 17 points in 29 career dates with his former squad.

McDavid has 24 points (16G, 8A) in 22 career games against the Flames. His 16 goals are the most he has scored versus any franchise. Draisaitl has 25 points in 26 career matches with CGY. His 21 assists when facing the club is the most he has recorded against an organization.

By the Numbers:

The Oilers rank 11th on the PP (23.9%) and 22nd on the PK (76.3%). ... Edmonton is 5-5-0 at Rogers Place this season. ... The club is 8-2-0 when scoring first. ... The Oilers possess a 53.8 faceoff percentage at home (8th). ... Edmonton is 3rd in the NHL in missed shots with 215 and Calgary is 4th with 212. ...

The Flames are 16th on the PP (20.3%) and 13th on the PK (80.4%). ... CGY is 4-4-1 on the road in '20-21, being outscored 25-21. ... The Flames' power play sits at 12.1 percent (25th) away from the Scotiabank Saddledome. ... The club is averaging 26.6 shots on goal on the road (28th). 

Injury Report:

OILERS - William Lagesson (upper body) is day-to-day; Ethan Bear (face) is on IR; Zack Kassian (hand) is on LTIR; Oscar Klefbom (shoulder) is on IR.

FLAMES - Sean Monahan (lower-body) is day-to-day; Derek Ryan (lower-body) is out. 

-- Paul Gazzola, EdmontonOilers.com

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