Oilers vs. Flames Preview

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CALGARY - The Calgary Flames put an end to their early scoring drought in a win over the Edmonton Oilers in mid-October, a performance they've followed with more strong offensive efforts.


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Nothing's provided a bigger spark than the return of Rene Bourque.

Bourque and the Flames look to build off a pair of four-goal wins Tuesday night as they continue a five-game homestand against the Oilers in the third Battle of Alberta this month.

Oddsmakers from online sports book Sportsbook.com have made the Flames –172 money line favorites for Tuesday's game against the Oilers. Current NHL Public Betting Information shows that 66% of more than 140 bets for this game have been placed on the Flames -172.

Calgary (5-3-0) was struggling mightily through three games, when it was twice shut out - including an opening-night visit to Edmonton - and failed to get a point from its then-top line of Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Alex Tanguay.

That trio broke out with three goals and three assists in a 5-3 win over the Oilers (2-4-0) on Oct. 16, and the Flames' offense has continued to produce. Iginla has six points as Calgary has won four of five, but Bourque has been the biggest star in its last two games.

The sixth-year winger had his third career hat trick in a 6-2 win at Columbus on Friday, then scored twice in a 4-0 rout of San Jose on Sunday.

"Any time you're scoring you want to have the puck on your stick," Bourque said. "I feel like I can make plays happen right now."

Now working with Niklas Hagman on a line centered by Jokinen, Bourque has made a big impact since his return from a head injury that caused him to miss two games - including the win over Edmonton.

"He's a big strong guy and when he plays that way and he's very involved in the game emotionally, he wants to be the difference out there," Flames coach Brent Sutter said. "He finds those areas he can shoot the puck in and he goes to the net and when he's in that mindset, in that groove to do it he's a very effective player."

While Bourque failed to contribute in Calgary's 4-0 opening-night loss to the Oilers, who snapped a seven-game losing streak in the rivalry, he certainly had a hand in building that streak. Bourque had six goals and six assists in the Flames' six wins last season, including a hat trick in Edmonton on Dec. 28.

Calgary has outscored the Oilers 28-12 in winning its past six home games in the series.

Edmonton has dropped its first two road games to fall to 2-22-2 away from home since Dec. 23, and that's bad news considering eight of its next 10 are away from Rexall Place.

The Oilers have dropped four in a row overall since opening with two wins, including the last two at home. San Jose scored three times in five power-play chances Saturday in a 6-1 rout that left Edmonton coach Tom Renney fuming.

"We're not going to hang our head on being young and being inexperienced," Renney said. "We're in the NHL. We're six games in, and while this won't be the last time we go to school, our intention is to make sure we show people what we are all about, too. Anything less than that on any given night is unacceptable."

Edmonton has allowed a goal on 33.3 percent of its opponents' power plays - tied with Dallas for the league's worst mark.
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