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An upcoming seven-game road trip will likely determine whether the Edmonton Oilers will be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline.
Edmonton hopes to open the trip with its first win in Boston in more than 11 years when it faces the Bruins on Tuesday night.
The Oilers (28-24-4) are ninth in the Western Conference, six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot with 26 games remaining. They also are six points back of Calgary, Vancouver and Minnesota, who are tied for first place in the Northwest Division.
Oilers coach Craig MacTavish knows his team has to make its move soon.
"We want to give ourselves a chance to make some ground up," he said. "Playing .500 is not going to do it. We've got to be better than that. The sand is running through the hourglass and we've got to get our game together in a hurry."
The Oilers don't play at home again until Feb. 27 against Phoenix. That's the day of the NHL trade deadline, a date center Marty Reasoner admits the players are well aware of.
"Everyone is human. We hear about what's going on," he said. "You have to be professional about it. You have to show up and do your job. When you put your gear on and play, that's the only thing that matters."
Opening the trip with a victory won't be easy considering the Oilers have four losses and one tie in Boston since a 6-0 victory Nov. 7, 1996. The Bruins (25-25-4) have won the last five overall meetings since a 6-1 road defeat Oct. 17, 2000.
The Oilers scored five unanswered goals Sunday in a 5-1 victory over Atlanta, their final home game before the trip. Petr Sykora had three assists for Edmonton, winner of five of seven.
"It was a big win for us," right wing Joffrey Lupul said. "We knew we needed to win these two. It's going to be a long road trip, and hopefully we can put together a good trip and put ourselves back into the picture."
Strong play from goaltender Dwayne Roloson is essential if the Oilers are going to reach the playoffs. Roloson has allowed eight goals in winning three of his last four starts after yielding 13 during a personal three-game losing streak.
Edmonton will likely be without Fernando Pisani on Tuesday. The right wing departed in the second period Sunday and did not return after suffering a mild concussion on a hit from Atlanta's Andy Sutton.
Boston has even more ground to make up in the East, sitting nine points behind eighth-place Carolina.
All-Star defenseman Zdeno Chara scored in the ninth round of the shootout Saturday, lifting the Bruins to a 4-3 victory over the visiting Islanders.
"When you're a shooter you go in with a plan," Chara said. "My plan was to shoot between his legs, and when I saw an opening I took it."
Marco Sturm scored twice in regulation for Boston, which snapped a four-game home losing streak with its third win in four games overall.
Defenseman Andrew Ference is expected to make his Bruins debut Tuesday. Ference was acquired from Calgary on Saturday as part of a four-player deal that sent defenseman Brad Stuart to the Flames.
Right wing Chuck Kobasew, also acquired in the deal with Ference, is sidelined with a fractured right elbow and won't play for at least two weeks.