Flames in need of win over rival Oilers
CALGARY, Alberta -- The Calgary Flames don't have far to look for motivating factors heading into their home game against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
On the heels of a disappointing 5-2 loss to the New York Islanders at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Sunday, the Flames need to start stringing together wins to get back into the playoff picture in the NHL's Western Conference.
Although they have lost seven straight games to their provincial rivals, the Flames (34-26-10) managed to get one point during the last installment of the Battle of Alberta in Edmonton on Jan. 25, when the Oilers (30-34-4) eked out a 4-3 shootout victory.
"Honestly, we don't like each other, but at this time of year it doesn't matter the opponent, we have to find a way to get two points," defenseman Mark Giordano said. "They're a team who's playing well who has a lot of firepower.
"We know what they have over there, but every team's going to have the same sort of obstacles. We've just got to find ways to get points and that's the bottom line right now."
Giordano added that the Flames would like nothing more than to reward their fans with a win over the Oilers, especially since Calgary has compiled a less-than-stellar 14-16-4 record on home ice.
"It's a big game," the Calgary captain stressed. "We're in a spot right now where there's not much room for error, to be honest. It's a good night. It's a team that the crowd will be into it. The emotion will be in the game. We have to find a way to win it."
Forward Johnny Gaudreau said he and his teammates definitely realize the importance of bouncing back with a victory.
"Especially where we're at in the standings and how important each game is," said Gaudreau, who had a goal and an assist against the Islanders to run his point-scoring streak to five games.
"I think they've gotten the best of us over the past year or two years. I think (on Tuesday) we don't look at it as a Battle of Alberta game. We look at this as a must-win game for us. It's an important game for us where we're at in the standings right now."
Although they're well outside of the playoff picture, the Oilers have different motivating factors for dousing the Flames.
"It's a lot of pride from the fans," defenseman Adam Larsson said. "For the players, it's something we will always remember with the Battle of Alberta ... even going into next season. If we can make them miss the playoffs that's great, but we're focusing on our own game. We want to finish strong personally and we want to finish strong as a team."
As for Edmonton's success in the past two years against Calgary, Oilers coach Todd McLellan wasn't able to point to one particular thing.
"The rivalry, I think, gets both teams up," McLellan said. "It's an exciting time to be playing, especially against your rival. We found some breaks. We've got some good goaltending. We found ways to check when we needed to. We've had to come back in games.
"There's really no pattern to our success against them. Every game's been different. Every game has taken on its own personality, so we hope that continues again (on Tuesday) and we can find a way to push our way to win."
Rookie defenseman Ethan Bear is hoping he gets the call to play his sixth NHL game -- and first against the Flames -- for the Oilers.
"It's a very intense rivalry, so I'm looking very forward to it," Bear said. "Everybody always wants to beat Calgary. It's another rivalry that you want to be a part of. You know how to get up for it. They're pretty intense games, so I just want to get out there and play hard."
Updated March 12, 2018