Oilers try to give playoff chances a jolt in clash with Flames

The last time the Edmonton Oilers played the Calgary Flames, they picked up a victory that had them just one point back of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

A subsequent four-game losing streak has put those playoff hopes in danger and the Oilers will hope another meeting with the Flames on Saturday night can right the ship.

Edmonton was tied for 10th in the West after sweeping a home-and-home set with Calgary to begin the month, capping a five-game winning streak with an 8-2 victory in Calgary on April 3.

The Oilers, though, have followed with their longest losing streak since dropping five straight from March 1-8 and have been outscored 13-3 over their current four-game winless stretch. That has dropped the club, which has not made the playoff since 2006, into 12th in the conference and six points behind the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings with a game in hand.

After three straight losses on the road, the Oilers opened a three-game homestand on Wednesday with a 3-1 setback to the Phoenix Coyotes. Nail Yakupov scored midway through the third period to make it a one-goal game, but Edmonton's offense went silent after that.

Devan Dubnyk made 29 saves in the setback.

"It was too little, too late for the result we needed, which was points," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "It's a tough one to swallow. There are no points to give any more. We're not giving up. We need to do everything possible to win the next game."

Krueger's club will have to do that without forward Ales Hemsky, who will sit out the next seven days of action to rest a nagging foot injury.

Edmonton has won four of the past five meetings with Calgary in the Battle of Alberta after losing nine straight in this series. The Flames have still won seven of their last 10 in Edmonton.

Calgary is playing the role of spoiler as it sits in a tie for 27th in the overall NHL standings with 34 points. That didn't stop the Flames from handing the Coyotes a 3-2 overtime setback on Friday night.

Mark Giordano scored the winner with 23.1 seconds left in the bonus frame, wristing home a one-touch pass from Curtis Glencross.

Calgary won for just the second time in its past eight and that includes a victory at Colorado on Monday that snapped a 13-game road slide. Still, Giordano wouldn't say that the club is playing loose and that is the reason for the current success.

"I think we're a team that is playing a hard-working game," said Giordano. "We've inserted some young guys who don't take any shifts off and they're doing a great job for us. It's showing in the results."

Lee Stempniak and Jiri Hudler each scored versus the Coyotes, while Joey MacDonald made 29 saves for the Flames.

Calgary did lose veteran forward Alex Tanguay to a knee injury in the second period and he did not return. His current status is unknown.