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COLORADO AVALANCHE (30-37-1) at
EDMONTON OILERS (32-27-8)
Start Time: 8:10 p.m. MDT
Television: CBC (HD)
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Avalanche Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison Oilers Twitter Lineup Updates:
by Marc Ciampa & Jessica McPhee | edmontonoilers.com
The race for the final playoff spots in the Western Conference is getting that much more difficult as the 2008-09 regular season approaches its conclusion.
With their win last night, the Columbus Blue Jackets now hold a six-point lead on the Oilers for sixth spot in the Western Conference. That means the race is on for the final two spots - seventh and eighth - between six teams: Edmonton, Nashville, Dallas, Minnesota, St. Louis and Anaheim.
Tonight, the Oilers play a team that is well out of the playoff hunt, the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs have 61 points and are in last place in the Western Conference. They've also struggled recently going 2-7 in their last 9 and 5-11 in their last 16 outings.
However, the Avs did play spoiler in their most recent game - defeating the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a shootout.
Edmonton has picked up points in seven of its last nine games and each of its last three but they've lost three of their last five in overtime and only came away with two points in two of their last seven.
This is the fifth of six meetings between the Oilers and Avalanche. In the previous four, each team has won twice.
Just The Facts...
Bob Stauffer & Marc Crawford preview tonight's game Pre-game comments from Sam Gagner, Denis Grebeshkov, Robert Nilsson & Craig MacTavish The Other Side: Pre-game comments from Colorado's Ian Laperriere, Ryan Smyth and coach Tony Granato
Meet Pouliot at Sunday's Oil Kings Game - The Oil Kings are at Rexall Place for their final home game of the regular season on March 15th at 2pm. Meet one of the Edmonton Oilers, Marc Pouliot, at Sunday’s game where he will be signing autographs before the game. ...more
The Other Side
Avs begin road trip in Edmonton - Colorado opens a three-game road swing tonight against the Edmonton Oilers at 8:00 p.m. MT. Follow the action tonight on Altitude 2, the NHL Network and Mile High Sports Radio AM 1510 Game Notes ...more Avalanche play of the week March 6-12 - We've offered up the three choices, now it's your turn to vote for the Avalanche's Play of the Week. Plays by Tyler Arnason, Marek Svatos and Wojtek Wolski are all nominated this time around ...more AvsCast: Scott Hannan - Defenseman Scott Hannan is our guest in the latest installment of AvsCast. In this interview, Hannan talks about his childhood hockey idol and his hobbies away from the rink, while also reflecting on his adjustment to living in Denver ...more
From the Fans
Click here to read today's gameday thread on the Oilers message board.
Odds and Ends
The LINK: Smid, Grebeshkov and Bettman - In this edition of The Link, we get to know Ladislav Smid and Denis Grebeshkov a little better. We also have an interview with Gary Bettman following the GM Meetings and have some special guests. ...more 5 Questions with Ladislav Smid - Arena snacks, sunny cities, and cram-session school subjects are among the five topics Ladislav Smid addressed in our most-recent Off The Ice profile. Follow the link to check out his answers and more Off The Ice features. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
An inability to force shootouts may be costing the Edmonton Oilers some much-needed points. Most teams, though, are finding tiebreakers with the Colorado Avalanche to be futile.
Coming off consecutive overtime losses, the Oilers look to avoid becoming the second straight playoff contender to lose to the lowly Avalanche as the teams meet at Rexall Place on Saturday night.
Edmonton (32-27-8), tied with Dallas for seventh place in the tightly contested Western Conference, has lost four of five during a stretch in which it needs every point it can get.
Three of Edmonton's last four defeats have been in OT, including 4-3 at home to Atlanta on Thursday night, and coach Craig MacTavish believes his team is letting points slip away.
"There has been three of those in the last eight days with the same result," MacTavish said. "We can't even get them to the shootout. We've got really strong shooters and I would have liked our chances in the shootout."
The Oilers have been respectable in shootouts, winning four of eight while going 1-0-4 in OT.
Edmonton has lost three straight matchups that have gotten past regulation against Colorado (30-37-1), falling short in a shootout each time. In the teams' only such contest this season, the Avalanche got goals from Wojtek Wolski and Darcy Tucker in the tiebreaker to beat the Oilers 3-2 on Nov. 15.
Those situations seem to bring out the best in Wolski and Colorado, which is 9-1 in shootouts and 2-0 in OT.
Wolski has scored eight goals in nine shootout attempts. One of those scores helped the Avalanche beat Minnesota 2-1 on Thursday night. The Wild trail the Oilers by one point in the West.
As good as Colorado has been in OT and shootouts, its 19-37 record in regulation has it in last place in the conference. Fourteen of those losses were decided by one goal, and the costly defeats have certainly been on the mind of coach Tony Granato.
"There's a lot of things you can go back on in a year," Granato said. "I'm sure every team is thinking the same thing right now."
Edmonton would be wise to be aggressive early with hopes of getting a quick lead.
Oilers left wing Patrick O'Sullivan said a slow start played a large role in Thursday's game, which Edmonton trailed 2-1 after the first period.
"The next time we need to be ready to go right from the start," said O'Sullivan, who scored his first goal since being acquired at the trade deadline from Carolina.
The Oilers lost even after activating captain Ethan Moreau from the injured list earlier in the day. The veteran left wing had been sidelined since Feb. 28, when he took a stick in the eye during a 3-2 victory over Minnesota.
Moreau has just five goals in 47 games versus Colorado, which has been held to two goals or fewer in six of its last seven.
The Avalanche, though, have won two of three after losing their previous six. They had lost five straight and 10 of 12 on the road before a 5-1 win over Chicago on Sunday.
The Oilers are 2-1-1 against the Avalanche in 2008-09. The teams will conclude their season series Thursday night at Colorado.