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EDMONTON OILERS (5-10-0) at
COLORADO AVALANCHE (9-5-0)
Start Time: 7:38 p.m. MST
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
The Edmonton Oilers continue a four-game road trip and eight-game stretch of games versus Northwest Division opponents. Game two is tonight with the team stopping in Denver to face the Avalanche.
Edmonton has dropped three straight games and currently sit at the bottom of the Northwest Division standings but are still only four points out of seventh in the Western Conference at this early point in the season.
LAST GAME: Wild 5, Oilers 2 Colorado started the season with a 4-4-0 record through its first eight games but since that time have rattled off a 5-1-0 record in their next six to sit within two points of Minnesota for top spot in the division.
The Avs play their fourth game of this season-long five-game homestand. So far the club is 3-1-0 on the homestand.
Edmonton has met Colorado once already this season, dropping a 4-2 decision at Rexall Place. In that game, the Avs raced out to a 3-1 first period lead before the Oilers closed the gap to 3-2. Brett Clark added an empty net goal for the Avalanche. Dustin Penner had a goal and an assist while Tom Gilbert scored and Sam Gagner had a pair of helpers for Edmonton.
Just The Facts...
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With a formidable top line carrying them offensively, the Colorado Avalanche are making a run at the top spot in the Northwest Division.
The Avalanche look to continue their roll when they host the struggling Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.
Behind the forward unit of Paul Stastny, Wojtek Wolski and Milan Hejduk, Colorado (9-5-0) won for the fifth time in six games Monday, 4-1 over Calgary. The offense came almost exclusively from the Avs' top line, as Stastny scored two goals, Wolski added a goal and two assists and Hejduk had three assists. The trio was plus-9 in addition to totaling eight points.
"We're clicking right now," Wolski said. "The effort is there and good chances come from good effort. We work well together, too. This isn't something that happened overnight. It took time."
The three players have helped power Colorado during its six-game surge, with Wolski recording four goals and three assists and Stastny adding two goals and three assists over that span. Hejduk, who missed five games in October due to a back problem, recorded his first points Monday since a two-goal, one-assist performance in a win over Columbus on Oct. 13.
"We are comfortable with each other," said Stastny, who had his first multigoal game since his hat trick opening night. "We played together all last year. We have developed a comfort level."
Colorado captain Joe Sakic extended his point streak to eight games with an assist. The 38-year-old center has a goal and 10 assists during the streak, giving him five goals and 11 assists on the season.
Coach Joel Quenneville's team also got a goal from Andrew Brunette as it pulled to within two points of first-place Minnesota.
"I thought our game was very strong," Quenneville said. "We got something from all the lines."
While Colorado has found its game, Edmonton (5-10-0) is languishing in last place in the Northwest. The Oilers lost for the third straight time Monday, 5-2 to the Wild.
Edmonton gave up four power-play goals and went 1-for-6 with the man advantage, falling to a league-worst 4-for-60 this season. The Oilers have a league-low 10 points in 15 games.
"We're a close-knit team, and we're going to stay positive," said center Shawn Horcoff, who scored in the second period. "We've got a lot of injuries, but we're not making any excuses when it comes to losing games here. We're going to let go of this one and work hard tomorrow."
Edmonton is suffering from the absence of several injured veteran defensemen including All-Star Sheldon Souray, forcing blueliners like Denis Grebeshkov, Dick Tarnstrom and Tom Gilbert into significant time on the penalty kill.
"You can commend the effort and intensity, but you've got to play this game with your head or else you're going to get picked apart. We were moving around the ice like chickens with our heads cut off," coach Craig MacTavish said.
The Avalanche are 5-1-1 in their last seven meetings with the Oilers, although they've dropped four of the last five matchups at the Pepsi Center.