Flames-Oilers Preview

There are only two games left at Rexall Place. As much as Edmonton Oilers fans will miss the place, so might the Calgary Flames.

It's a building where Calgary has flourished in recent seasons despite limited success otherwise, though the Oilers will have a better chance to ruin their Alberta rival's final visit Saturday night if a lengthy break got them healthier.

These clubs are just trying to avoid finishing last in the Pacific Division.

Edmonton (30-42-7) is missing the playoffs for a 10th straight year and has a Western Conference-low 67 points, three fewer than a Flames team which failed to qualify for the sixth time in seven seasons.

That span, however, has seen Calgary go 14-3-1 in Edmonton. The Flames are 7-0-1 in their last eight at Rexall Place, though the loss came in the last trip - 2-1 in a shootout Jan. 16.

The Oilers head to a new downtown arena next season, so Wednesday's matchup with Vancouver will mark the finale at a building they've called home since it opened in 1974 as Northlands Coliseum. While the three-day break before that game gives management time for last-minute preparations for the festivities, having the past four days off gave some key players time to heal.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins hasn't played since suffering a concussion March 22 in Arizona but returned to practice Thursday.

"Obviously if I'm back skating, practicing with the guys, it wasn't a terrible one or anything," he said. "Just definitely was shook up, but feel a lot better now. ... Right now it's just kind of day to day."

Nugent-Hopkins had missed nearly two months earlier this year with a hand injury, the same issue which has kept Adam Pardy sidelined the past nine games. He's been skating with the team in practice and wants to return soon so he can make an impression on a team he didn't join until being claimed off waivers Feb. 29.

"It's really important I get into the next three (games) and leave a positive impact," Pardy said.

Fellow defenseman Eric Gryba also is hopeful of returning Saturday after being out for six weeks with a knee problem.

However, Edmonton still remains without Oscar Klefbom (foot), Andrew Ference (hip), Brandon Davidson (knee) and Benoit Pouliot (shoulder).

"It's been a year-long monkey wrench when it comes to injuries," said coach Todd McLellan, whose club has lost four of five.

Both the Oilers and Flames are coming off back-to-back defeats to the Pacific's top teams. Edmonton lost 6-4 at Los Angeles last Saturday, then 2-1 to Anaheim on Monday.

Calgary (32-40-6) wasn't nearly as competitive, falling 8-3 to the Ducks on Wednesday and 3-0 to the Kings a night later. The Flames are 0-8 this season against those teams.

"It's been a tough year for us in our own division," forward Mikael Backlund told the club's official website.

Calgary has lost five of six overall but is 9-1-1 in its past 11 versus Edmonton. Joe Colborne has four goals and four assists in his last seven games against the Oilers.

Taylor Hall has eight points in the four meetings this season and leads Edmonton with 81 but has just four in his last 11 games. Jordan Eberle has tied Hall for the team lead with 25 goals by scoring in five of the past eight games.

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