Preview: Oilers at Flames
Provincial pride is the only thing on the line in the season's final edition of the Battle of Alberta, but the Calgary Flames have bigger things looming on the horizon. Having already wrapped up the Pacific Division title and the top seed in the Western Conference, the Flames close the regular season against the visiting Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
Calgary has rested a number of key players in each of its last two contests, including a 3-1 setback at Anaheim on Wednesday that snapped a three-game winning streak. "It's kind of tough to play in a game like this, but you still have to find a way to be professional," Flames forward Derek Ryan said after the finale of a three-game road trip. Calgary has won two of three meetings against the Oilers, who will miss the playoffs for the 12th time in the past 13 seasons and will look to halt a five-game skid in the season finale. "It'll be a competitive game for sure," Edmonton forward Milan Lucic said. "When it's the Battle of Alberta, it always means something. The rivalry is there. There will be fans amped up for the game tomorrow and so should we as players."
TV: 10 p.m. ET, CBC, Sportsnet1, Sportsnet East/Ontario/Pacific
ABOUT THE OILERS (34-38-9): Individual milestones are on the docket for Edmonton and Leon Draisaitl is on the precipice of a major one after scoring both goals against San Jose to push his season total to 49. "I think he wants 50 and you can see the hunger in that and that's good for us," Oilers coach Ken Hitchcock said of Draisaitl. "He's competing for pucks and he wants to shoot and there is nothing wrong with that. And we're hopeful as heck he gets it." Draisaitl has been limited to a pair of assists in three meetings versus Calgary this season.
ABOUT THE FLAMES (50-24-7): Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm, Calgary's second- and third-leading scorers, were held out of Thursday's matchup against Anaheim. However, top scorer Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist to extend his point streak to five games and boost his season total to a career-best 98. "It would be cool, obviously," Gaudreau said of reaching 100 points. "It's something that I try not to focus on too much, but I realize how close I am. That's not the reason why I'm playing, though, right now. I feel good. I like to be on the ice."
1. Oilers captain Connor McDavid has two goals against Calgary this season and 11 in 15 career meetings.
2. Gaudreau has been limited to one goal and one assist in three matchups versus Edmonton.
3. Oilers G Mikko Koskinen is 1-2-0 with eight goals allowed in three meetings versus the Flames this season.
PREDICTION: Oilers 5, Flames 3