Preview: Oilers at Flames
The Edmonton Oilers capped a brutal 10-game stretch (2-7-1) with a dismal performance against the Calgary Flames in the season's first installment of the Battle of Alberta. The Oilers have since rebounded and carry a five-game point streak (4-0-1) into the finale of a five-game road trip against their bitter provincial rivals in Calgary.
Former Flames goaltender Mike Smith made 35 saves on Thursday as Edmonton answered an early two-goal deficit by scoring three times in the third period in a 4-2 victory over reeling Montreal. "My game feels like where it's back to where it should be and it can be. It's a good feeling to help the team win," said the 37-year-old Smith, who signed with the Oilers after two seasons in Calgary. Speaking of the Flames, they have won four consecutive one-goal decisions to toss their hat in the ring among the contenders in the top-heavy Pacific. "That's huge," goaltender Cam Talbot said. "To keep this streak going. We've got, what, four more games before the (All-Star) break and we're trying to separate ourselves from teams below us and catch the teams above us. We know these games are going to be huge coming up, and it's just nice to string a few together here and keep it going."
TIME: 10 p.m. ET. TV: CBC, Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360, Sportsnet 1, CITY
ABOUT THE OILERS (24-17-5): Captain Connor McDavid, who scored in a 5-1 setback to Calgary on Dec. 27, became the first NHL player to reach the 70-point plateau when he set up fellow former top overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' power-play goal early in the third period on Thursday. McDavid accomplished the feat in just 46 or fewer games in consecutive seasons, becoming the first player to do so since Jaromir Jagr in 1998-99 and 1999-2000. Leon Draisaitl has notched 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games to reside one shy of McDavid.
ABOUT THE FLAMES (24-17-5): Johnny Gaudreau scored what proved to be the game-winning goal midway into the second period of Thursday's 2-1 win over Minnesota to boost his point total to six (two goals, four assists) in his past five games. Sean Monahan set up that goal and has seven points in his last nine contests, including a tally in the first encounter versus Edmonton. The 25-year-old, who resides two points shy of 400 for his career, has recorded 20 of his 35 points at home this season.
1. Calgary LW Matthew Tkachuk has 11 (three goals, eight assists) of his club-best 38 points in his last 10 games.
2. Nugent-Hopkins has 10 points (four goals, six assists) in his last eight contests.
3. Flames LW Andrew Mangiapane has been held off the scoresheet in six games since collecting a goal and two assists against the Oilers.
PREDICTION: Flames 4, Oilers 3