The Edmonton Oilers return home to Rogers Place having won eight of their last ten games and each of their last two. Tonight, they’ll take on a Calgary Flames team desperate to return to the win column following last night’s 2-1 victory by the Oilers in Calgary.
It’s the third of ten meetings between the Oilers and Flames this season, and the first one to take place at Rogers Place. It’s also the final meeting between the teams this month, and concludes a back-to-back, home-and-home set that opened last night. It is the fourth set of back-to-back games that the Oilers have played this season.
Jacob Markstrom gets the nod for the Flames, while Mikko Koskinen will get the start for the Oilers.
Keys To The Game:
Edmonton: Lock it right back down. The Oilers did an excellent job of preventing the Flames from getting anything going offensively on Friday night. They largely kept Calgary to the perimeter, prevented second chance opportunities, shielded the high-danger areas and didn’t panic under pressure. It was an outstanding defensive showing. That’ll be the key again tonight as the Oilers aim for the sweep.
Calgary: Get back to being annoying. The Flames looked like a defeated team that lacked any kind of life on Friday night. There were signs of a push late in the first period, but we never saw the Flames try to annoy the Oilers, bait them into penalties or take some shots late. The Flames are at their best when they are annoying their opponent. They need that spark tonight if they want to salvage the split.
Players To Watch:
Edmonton: Leon Draisaitl was held off the scoresheet on Friday night and looked to be a step behind throughout the evening. Rarely does Draisaitl have back-to-back quiet games, so the expectation is that he’ll rebound nicely tonight and be a factor. The Oilers, who got no points from Connor McDavid and Draisaitl on Friday, will need the big guns to step up in this rematch.
Calgary: Johnny Gaudreau was also quiet on Friday night, but does lead the Flames with 17 points (9 g, 8 a) this season. The Flames, who are just 2-3-0 in their last five games, will need their top players to step up and take charge. Gaudreau, who has come under fire for his performance in big games over the years, is one of those players. He needs to be a factor for the Flames tonight.
In an ideal world, Dave Tippett would just dress the exact same lineup as Friday night. That may not be possible, as the coach admitted that his team is dealing with a few injuries. Caleb Jones, who had a short skate this morning, could be rejoining the lineup.
William Lagesson (day-to-day) and Ethan Bear (face, IR) both remain injured on defense. Kyle Turris, who was scratched on Friday, is likely to sit as well. These lines are not official and are subject to change.
Edmonton Oilers Lines:
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Connor McDavid – Jesse Puljujarvi
Tyler Ennis – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Dominik Kahun – Jujhar Khaira – Josh Archibald
James Neal – Gaetan Haas – Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse – Tyson Barrie
Kris Russell – Adam Larsson
Caleb Jones – Evan Bouchard
The Flames still are without center Derek Ryan, who is dealing with an upper body injury. Sean Monahan was a late scratch on Friday with a lower-body injury and is considered day-to-day. There is no word if he’ll be able to return tonight. Lines are subject to change.
Calgary Flames Lines:
Matthew Tkachuk – Mikael Backlund – Andrew Mangiapane
Johnny Gaudreau – Elias Lindholm – Josh Leivo
Milan Lucic – Sam Bennett – Brett Ritchie
Joakim Nordstrom – Byron Froese – Dillon Dube
Noah Hanifin – Chris Tanev
Mark Giordano – Rasmus Andersson
Connor Mackey – Juuso Valimaki
“We’re doing some things that I think give us the best chance to win,” Dave Tippett said earlier on Saturday. “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. I thought we played a strong third period. 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. We have to reset for tonight. We’re going to have to play a stronger game. They’re going to be a desperate team.”
The Oilers are 3-0-0 in the second half of back-to-back sets this season, and have completed two back-to-back sweeps. They split a season opening set with the Vancouver Canucks in January, dropping the first game 5-3 before winning 5-2 the next night. On January 30th and 31st, they beat the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators on back-to-back nights, then swept the Senators on February 8th and 9th.
How important is the first goal tonight? The Oilers are have struck first ten times in their 19 games this season, and are 8-2-0 when scoring first. When not scoring first? The Oilers are just 3-6-0 on the season. The team that has scored first has won each of the first two meetings this season in the ‘Battle of Alberta’.