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NOTE: We are in Denver today and will provide pre-game video interviews following the morning skate as well as lineup updates throughout the day.
EDMONTON OILERS (4-1-0) at
COLORADO AVALANCHE (3-3-0)
Start Time: 7:38 p.m. MDT
Television: TSN (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.Game Notes | Oilers/Avalanche Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics by Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com
Following four straight victories to start the 2008-09 season, the Edmonton Oilers finally had their first taste of defeat last night in falling 3-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks to kick off a three-game road trip.
Chicago got off to a 2-0 lead and didn't look back in the blanking. Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Aaron Johnson got the goals for the host Chicago squad.
LAST GAME: Blackhawks 3, Oilers 0
Just The Facts...
Oct. 23: Pre-Game at Colorado: Shawn Horcoff
Oct. 23: Pre-Game at Colorado: Craig MacTavish
The Other Side
Practice Report: Scoring in Bunches - With a league-high 24 goals through six games, Colorado certainly hasn't had trouble finding the back of the net. However, head coach Tony Granato hopes the Avalanche's scoring success becomes a luxury rather than a necessity ...more This Week in Avalanche Hockey - Winners of three straight, the Avalanche will host a pair of games this week, facing off against the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday before hosting the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night ...more
Odds and Ends
How well do you know Dustin Penner? - Robert Nilsson, Shawn Horcoff and Kyle Brodziak were all recently quizzed on Oilers teammate Dustin Penner. Follow the link for a video to see how they did as part of a feature on this week's episode of The Link! ...more 5 Questions with Lubomir Visnovsky This or that? with Zack Stortini
From the Wire (AP)
Teams have had a tough time stopping the Colorado Avalanche's offense. In fact, the Edmonton Oilers are the only club that has had any success keeping them in check.
The Oilers, no longer able to count themselves among the NHL's unbeaten teams, look to slow down the Avalanche for the second time this season when the Northwest Division rivals meet Thursday night.
Edmonton won each of its first four games with strong defensive play, holding opponents to an average of 2.25 goals before a 3-0 loss at Chicago on Wednesday night.
In perhaps its strongest defensive effort of the season, Edmonton won its season opener 3-2 over Colorado (3-3-0) at home on Oct. 12. Mathieu Garon stopped 31 of 33 shots for the Oilers.
Edmonton got a clutch goal to secure the win, as Dustin Penner scored his second of the game with 5.4 seconds left.
That was the only contest in which the Avalanche have been held under four goals this season. Colorado's top line of Ryan Smyth, Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny is in sync, leading a team that has averaged 4.0 goals per game.
Smyth scored twice and Hejduk had a goal and an assist, leading the Avalanche to a 4-3 win over Los Angeles on Monday night. Stastny added two assists, giving him points in all six games this season.
The trio has been one of the league's most productive lines, combining for 11 goals and 24 points on the season.
"It's obviously a privilege playing with those two guys," said Smyth, who is second on the team with four goals. "I'm a guy that mucks it up a bit and goes to the net a little harder than those guys because they have that ability to create, and they've played together since Paulie's been in the league. So that makes my job a lot easier."
Hejduk, who tops Colorado with six goals, scored in this season's first matchup with Edmonton. He has three goals and one assist in his last four games versus the Oilers.
Second-year forward David Jones scored his first of the season Monday for the Avalanche, who have gotten goals from 15 different players.
Colorado, though, has struggled on defense, particularly on the penalty kill. The Avalanche have yielded an average of 3.66 goals per game, and their opponents have converted 29.6 percent (8-for-27) of their power-play chances.
Edmonton, meanwhile, has gone 0-for-4 with the man advantage in each of its last two contests after scoring on 38.5 percent (5-for-13) of its chances in its first three games.
On Wednesday, the Oilers' struggles finally caught up with them.
"We weren't ready to play at the start again," coach Craig MacTavish said. "We've gotten away with it in at least two of the first four games. We knew it wasn't going to be long before it bit us in the rear end."
Penalty killing is also becoming a problem for the Oilers, whose opponents have converted 30.7 percent (4-for-13) of their chances in the last three games.
Edmonton gave Dwayne Roloson his first start of the season Wednesday, and he stopped 27 of 30 shots. The Oilers will likely turn back to Garon, who is 3-0-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average this season, and 2-2-0 with a 2.49 GAA in his last six games versus Colorado.
Peter Budaj is expected to be in net for the Avalanche. He is 9-3-2 with a 2.58 GAA in 14 career games against the Oilers.