EDMONTON OILERS (39-34-5) at
COLORADO AVALANCHE (41-31-6)
7:08 p.m. MDT
Rogers Sportsnet West
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Avalanche Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
|EDMONTON, CANADA - MARCH 22: Denis Grebeshkov #37 of the Edmonton Oilers slams into the boards after being hit from behind by Ryan Smyth #94 of the Colorado Avalanche at Rexall Place on March 22, 2008 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Edmonton Oilers continue their three-game road trip tonight when they meet the Colorado Avalanche for the third time this month and second time in less than a week.
Last Saturday afternoon, the Oilers ousted the Avalanche 7-5 to move within three points of their division rivals for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Since that time, the Oilers split a home-and-home series with Minnesota while Colorado came up with huge wins on home ice over Calgary and Vancouver to gain a five-point edge on Edmonton. However, the Oilers still remain three points out of a playoff spot - but Vancouver is now the target.
Colorado has had an up-and-down month. Things were going well for the Avalanche as they had won six straight games and eight of 10 but the wheels fell off with four consecutive losses after that run. Their two most recent wins have ensured that they aren't falling out of the race.
Despite dropping their last game, the Oilers are still in the middle of a remarkable run to get into the postseason. They are 12-4-0 in their last 16 games despite missing key players due to injury.
This is the eighth and final meeting of the season between these two teams. The Oilers have a 2-4-1 record in the previous seven games.
Just The Facts...
OILERS TO WATCH:
Since February 1st, the Oilers' line of Sam Gagner
, Andrew Cogliano
and Robert Nilsson have combined to score 63 points. In those 25 games, they have a combined 21 goals, 42 assists and 63 points. The Oilers have a 16-9-0 record during that time. Gagner has 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 25 games, Cogliano has 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 25 games and Nilsson has 17 points (four goals, 13 points) in 24 games over that time frame.... The three were held off the scoresheet Wednesday in Minnesota. They have not been blanked in consecutive games since January 29/February 1.
AVALANCHE TO WATCH:
Milan Hejduk comes into tonight's game on a four-game scoring streak and three-game goal scoring streak which are his longest of the season. He is tied for the team lead with 26 goals... Goaltender Jose Theodore has done well of late with a record of 9-4-0 with a 2.08 GAA in his last 14 starts though he was pulled last time the Oilers and Avs met. Backup Peter Budaj has five wins in five starts against Edmonton this season with a 1.97 GAA... Paul Stastny has a point in each of his last seven games with two goals and nine assists during that span... Peter Forsberg racked up three assists on Wednesday against Vancouver and has four pints in his last two games with a +3 rating. Overall, Forsberg has six points - all assists - in six games since rejoining the Avalanche. He missed last Saturday's game against Edmonton due to injury.
Edmonton – Mathieu Garon (ankle) is doubtful. Geoff Sanderson (back) is doubtful. Ethan Moreau (broken leg) is out. Shawn Horcoff
(shoulder) is out. Sheldon Souray
(shoulder) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Colorado – Adam Foote (hip) is questionable. Scott Parker (ankle) is out. Marek Svatos (knee) is out. Brett Clark (shoulder) is out.
The Oilers have been held without a power play goal in each of their last four games, going 0-for-19 in that span. Prior to that, they had scored at least one power play goal in seven straight games. The Oilers have not been held without a power play goal in five straight games all season long... Colorado is 11-3-0 on home ice against fellow Northwest Division opponents this season. The Avs have also won seven of their last eight games at home... Edmonton is averaging 26.3 shots per game this season but have managed 29 or more shots on goal in each of thier last five games. They are only 11-12-1 when outshooting their opponent and 28-21-4 when being outshot this season... The Avalanche are 6-2-1 in their last games against the Oilers and 9-3-1 in their last 13. They have won all three meetings on home ice... Avalanche forward Ben Guite's father Pierre Guite played for the Oilers back when they were in the World Hockey Association. In parts of two seasons in 1977-78 and 1978-79 he had 13 goals and 35 points in 72 games for the Oilers. Guite spent the majority of his WHA career playing for the Quebec Nordiques ironically.
The Other Side
- Playoff Tickets on Sale Saturday - The Colorado Avalanche announced Thursday that single-game tickets for all potential home games in Round One of the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs will go on sale to the general public on Saturday, March 29 at noon ...more
- Practice Report: Power Play Heating Up - Read what Ryan Smyth had to say about Colorado's resurgent power play and get an update on defenseman Adam Foote's status for Friday's game against the Edmonton Oilers, for which a limited number of tickets are still available ...more
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Oilers Photo Blog brought to you by Bell - Morley Scott runs into Charles Barkley and Barack Obama among others as Edmonton visits Columbus, Phoenix, Chicago and San Jose in this edition of the Oilers Photo Blog brought to you by Bell. | View Photos | ...more
- Western Conference playoff race - Wednesday's Oilers loss coupled with Colorado's win complicates things a little bit on the Western Conference playoff front. Edmonton is still three points out of a playoff spot but Vancouver is now the eighth-place target. ...more
- Troy Bodie named Falcons' Man of the Year - Edmonton Oilers prospect Troy Bodie has been named the Springfield Falcons’ winner of the American Specialty/AHL Man of the Year award for his outstanding contributions to the Springfield community during the 2007-08 season. ...more
From the Wire
Peter Forsberg revitalized the Colorado Avalanche's postseason hopes when he decided to return to the NHL.
The Avalanche now hope Forsberg's presence continues to improve their playoff position when they conclude their season series with the Edmonton Oilers on Friday night.
Colorado (41-31-6) lost a season-high five straight from Feb. 12-20, dropping it into a ninth-place tie in the Western Conference. The Avalanche, though, have since gone 11-6-0, moving up to seventh with a five-point lead on 10th-place Edmonton (39-34-5).
They have won seven of 12 with Forsberg in the lineup. Forsberg, sidelined with a right foot injury the first four months of the season, signed with Colorado on Feb. 25 and has six assists in six games since returning.
His best performance came Wednesday, when he contributed three assists to lead the Avs to a 6-3 win over Vancouver.
Forsberg joined Milan Hejduk (two goals, one assist) and Paul Stastny (one goal, two assists) on the second line late in the first period.
"Any time you have a top-caliber player they've got to respect what he does," said Stastny, who has two goals and nine assists during a seven-game point streak. "He can score, too. He hasn't scored yet, but he's a pass-first player these days."
Whether he's scoring goals or not, having Forsberg back has been enough to put the Avalanche in position for a playoff run. They have four games left to secure their 12th playoff berth in 13 seasons after missing out in 2006-07.
Colorado, which opposes Northwest Division rivals for the remainder of the season, is 5-2-0 against the Oilers following a 7-5 loss at Edmonton on Saturday.
Joe Sakic, Hejduk and Stastny - the Avs' leader with 45 assists and 68 points - each had multipoint efforts in the defeat. Forsberg hasn't faced Edmonton this season, but has 22 goals and 59 points - his most against any opponent - in 38 all-time meetings.
"Edmonton is one of the hottest teams since Christmas I would say," Hejduk told the Avalanche's official Web site. "It's going to be another tough game. We have to be ready for them and have a good start and hopefully we'll win it again."
The Avalanche have won the first two contests on their three-game homestand, giving them seven victories in their last eight at the Pepsi Center, where they are 25-12-2. Only Detroit and Anaheim have more home wins (26).
The Oilers have won four of their last six road games, but dropped the opener of their three-game swing, 3-1 at division-leading Minnesota on Wednesday.
Fernando Pisani scored the lone goal, and Dwayne Roloson made 15 saves for Edmonton, which is three points behind Vancouver for the eighth and final postseason spot.
"The teams are so close," said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, whose team has won 12 of 16 to vault back into playoff contention. "Most of the teams are going to go right about .500 I would think. We can't, obviously. We need somebody else to go considerably less than that."
Edmonton, hoping to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons, looks to avoid losing back-to-back contests for the first time since a three-game skid from Feb. 16-22. All of those defeats were on the road, where the Oilers will play three of their remaining four games.