Oilers Fans can win big in-game tonight: A Ford Fiesta will be given away, plus a $3500 flight voucher and a Team Canada jersey signed by the entire roster of the Gold-Medal-winning team.
AT THE MORNING SKATE:
The Oilers took to the ice for their final gameday skate at Rexall Place Wednesday morning.
Despite helping his team earn two points with a 25-save performance Monday night vs. Minnesota, Devan Dubnyk was the last goalie to leave the ice, meaning Jeff Deslauriers is likely to start tonight vs. Colorado.
FOR THE FANS
Although a playoff berth is out of the picture, the Oilers have something important to play for tonight: a final home win for their fans.
"That's obviously what we're playing for," Andrew Cogliano said after the skate. "Colorado obviously clinched a spot last night, so we don't know how they're going to be prepared or coming out tonight, but for ourselves, we've got to try to win a game for the fans and look forward to next year."
Assistant Coach Wayne Fleming agrees.
"You've got to respect that fans who hung in there, and I think it goes back to that standing ovation we got a couple months ago after we snapped that losing streak," he said. "I've never seen anything like that and I think that really carried on."
Fleming is pleased with the way the team has played of late, especially at home.
"We're coming with energy, we're feeling good, and the puck's going in for us. That's a positive sign. And at at the same token, we're really strengthened up some of our defensive play. Hard work and focus, it sometimes goes a long way."
Defenceman Ryan Whitney credited a total team effort for the club's recent home success, eight wins in the past 11 games at Rexall Place.
"I think that the forwards, defencemen, and goalie all put together have kind of meshed pretty good and not let each other out to dry," he explained. "I think that all the wins we've had here, our goalies have been great. It's kind of been off and on which guy it is, but that makes a huge difference.
"We've scored some pretty timely goals, things like that, and the D have played well. So everything put together, it's made it a pretty successful year at home."
NIK STOPPING PUCKS AGAIN
Before the team took to the ice for morning skate, injured players Nikolai Khabibulin and Sam Gagner strapped on their skates for a test drive.
For Khabibulin, Wednesday's stint in net is the latest in a handful of on-ice appearances since undergoing spinal surgery in January. The goalie is pleased with his progress.
"It seems like every day it feels better," he said. "We started easy with just a track suit and Friday I put full gear on and took a few shots and this week three times already."
Khabibulin is confident that he'll be ready to play for the start of the 2010-11 season.
"I asked [the doctor] what it's going to be after surgery, and he said once you recover, you shouldn't feel anything," the goalie added. "So I'm pretty optimistic about it and the last couple days it was really exciting because I really felt very good.
"Ultimately it comes down to what the player feels and what I feel, and just like I said, the last couple days I wasn't really surprised but I think in the last three to four days, it really started to go to the next level as far as recovery."
Gagner has missed the past six games due to a hip injury, and although it is improving, he doesn't expect to play again this season.
"I skated today, just by myself, and it felt pretty good, but I talked to the doctors and there's really no point in pushing it right now, just continue to let it heal," Gagner explained. "I've gotten MRIs on it and there's nothing structurally wrong. There was a week there where it kind of stayed the same, but over the last four or five days, it's gotten a lot better. And I feel like in a week's time, I'll be 100% and I'll be ready to train again."
AVALANCHE (43-29-7) at OILERS (25-46-8)
Last 10 -- Colorado 3-6-1; Edmonton 4-5-1.
Season series -- This is the sixth and final meeting between the Northwest Division rivals. Colorado has beaten Edmonton three times, all via shutout. The teams last met on Feb. 6, when the Avalanche earned a 3-0 win at the PepsiCenter.
Big story -- The Edmonton Oilers wrap up the home portion of their 2009-10 schedule tonight. ... Colorado guaranteed itself an invitation to the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Tuesday night, as it clinched a berth with a 4-3 shootout win at Vancouver, coupled with Calgary's 2-1 loss on home ice against San Jose.
Avalanche -- Matt Duchene, the team's first-round pick (No. 3) at the 2009 Entry Draft, put his team into the playoffs when he beat Roberto Luongo in the third round of the shootout on Tuesday night atGM Place. It was the culmination of a remarkable turnaround by Colorado, which finished last in the Western Conference last season.
"Our goal all season was to make the playoffs and silence all the critics who said we were going to be 14th or 15th in the West," Duchene said. "To now clinch a playoff spot, it feels amazing."
Oilers -- Edmonton may be playing out the string, but the Oilers have earned points in back-to-back games and are coming off a 4-1 victory against Minnesota at Rexall Place on Monday night. Dustin Penner and Ethan Moreau both scored twice for the Oilers, who will have the best shot at landing the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft this June in Los Angeles.
Ironically, the Oilers will finish their season in southern California this weekend. They face the Kings on Saturday before wrapping things up on Sunday at Anaheim.
"It's late in the year and we're out of it and you can always say it doesn't mean anything, but it does mean something," coach Pat Quinn said. "It shows we can execute. We just need to do it when the games are way more meaningful than they are right now."
Who's hot -- Avs center Paul Stastny had a goal and an assist on Tuesday, extending his points streak to four games. … Oilers forward Shawn Horcoff has 15 points in his last 18 contests.
Injury report -- Colorado forward David Jones (knee) and Peter Mueller (concussion) are out. … The following players are out for Edmonton: Nikolai Khabibulin, Ales Hemsky, Sheldon Souray, Ladislav Smid, J.F. Jacques, Theo Peckham, Gilbert Brule and Sam Gagner. Ryan Stone (knee) is day-to-day.
Stat pack -- By getting the start on Tuesday night, Colorado's Craig Anderson became the first goaltender in franchise history to appear in 70 games. With the Avs clinching a playoff spot, expect Peter Budaj to get the starting nod against Edmonton and probably once more before the playoffs.
Puck drop -- ''We faced our first adversity after the Olympic break and the playoffs started early and we weren't quite ready. If I'm outside looking in, I'd probably be like everyone else betting in Vegas we wouldn't have been there with our youth. But it was a special team all year.'' -- Colorado captain Adam Foote