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Game Night: Flames vs. Oilers

Game Night: Flames vs. Oilers
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Calgary Flames (8-7-1) vs. Edmonton Oilers (10-8-0)

Friday at Saddledome, 7 p.m. MT, Sportsnet

Saturday at Rogers Place, 8 p.m. MT, CBC

Season Series

Calgary 1-0-0  6 GF

Edmonton 0-1-0  4 GF

Previous scores 

Feb. 6: CALGARY 6, Edmonton 4

Team scoring leaders vs. opponent 

FLAMES vs. OILERS

Mikael Backlund 1-2-3 +2

Milan Lucic 1-1-2 +2

Dillon Dube 1-1-2 +1

Johnny Gaudreau 1-1-2 -1

OILERS vs. FLAMES

Connor McDavid 1-1-2 -1

Jujhar Khaira 1-0-1 +1

Jesse Puljujarvi 1-0-1 E

Darnell Nurse 1-0-1 -1

FIVE KEYS TO THE GAME 

Oilers superstar Connor McDavid just joined elite company, hitting the 500-point plateau and tying Sidney Crosby as the eighth-fastest in NHL lore to reach that lofty peak (369 GP). McDavid, remember, is still only 24. The speed-demon centre has already notched 10 multi-point performances this season, including a Feb. 6 instalment of the Battle of Alberta. He’s scored 16 goals in 21 career contests against Calgary.

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Flames bench boss Geoff Ward was seething after Wednesday’s 5-1 pummelling from the Vancouver Canucks, saying he’s fed up with the inconsistency that has plagued his squad. “It’s time for us to start giving a (bleep) about it,” he bristled. Whenever the coach publicly questions your give-a-rip, you better be flying in the next outing — especially if it’s against an arch-rival.

The Oilers top the league with 24 first-period tallies. That’s a terrifying stat for the Flames, who have an awful habit of falling behind early. They’ve scored the first goal of the evening in only six of their 16 outings, although they have pulled off several comeback wins. They’d rather not spot McDavid’s men an early lead.

You should expect to see all four goalies during this back-to-back home-and-home set. But who starts Friday? The Oilers will presumably stick with Mike Smith, who chucked knuckles at centre-ice in his last trip to the Saddledome. Will the Flames go back to prized free-agent signing Jacob Markstrom, who was hooked in the capper against the Canucks? Or do they dust off David Rittich?

There will be 10 editions (!) this winter of the NHL’s Battle of Alberta, and the Flames drew first blood with a 6-4 victory on their home-sheet earlier this month. Mikael Backlund, who seems to be recovered from a lower-body injury, racked up three points that night. It was … surprise, surprise … Connor McDavid pacing the Oilers with a power-play goal and a helper.

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FLAMES’ LINEUP

Matthew Tkachuk – Elias Lindholm – Andrew Mangiapane

Johnny Gaudreau – Sean Monahan – Sam Bennett

Milan Lucic – Mikael Backlund – Dillon Dube

Joakim Nordstrom – Byron Froese – Brett Ritchie

Defence pairings 

Mark Giordano – Juuso Valimaki

Noah Hanifin – Chris Tanev

Nikita Nesterov – Rasmus Andersson

Goalies 

Jacob Markstrom

David Rittich

OILERS’ LINEUP

Forwards

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi

Tyler Ennis – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto

Kyle Turris – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson

Dominik Kahun – Juhjar Khaira – Josh Archibald

Defence pairings 

Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie

Kris Russell – Adam Larsson

Slater Koekkoek – Evan Bouchard

Goalies 

Mike Smith

Mikko Koskinen

SPECIAL TEAMS 

Flames: PP 21.3% (16th), PK 79.6% (18th)

Oilers: PP 24.6% (12th), 75.0% (T-23rd)

INJURIES

Oilers: D Ethan Bear (concussion), RW Zack Kassian (hand), D William Lagesson (upper body), D Oscar Klefbom (shoulder)

Flames:C Derek Ryan (finger)

— Wes Gilbertson

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