The Colorado Avalanche closes out a short two-game homestand on Thursday night, hosting the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center. It's the second of three meetings between the teams this season, the third of which will be played on Saturday night in Edmonton.
The Oilers enter Thursday's tilt sitting in third place in the Pacific Division, following a loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. With the regular season in its final stretch, Edmonton is still fighting to stay in the top three of the division with the Calgary Flames just a point behind.
The Avalanche is 62-40-10 all-time against the Oilers and has won three of the last four meetings. On home ice, Colorado is 34-20-3 in the series.
Last Time Out
Once again, the Avalanche squandered an early lead, this time falling 4-2 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night at Pepsi Center. John Mitchell logged his first multi-point game of the season, scoring Colorado's first goal and adding an assist, and Mark Barberio notched his second tally of 2016-17--both of which have come since being claimed on waivers by the Avalanche on Feb. 2. Colorado held a 21-17 edge in shots through the second period, but the Blues peppered Calvin Pickard with 11 in the final frame, scoring twice and adding an empty-netter to seal the win.
In a key Pacific-Division matchup on Wednesday night, the Oilers fell 4-3 to the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center. The game was tied at two goals apiece after the opening stanza, but the Ducks scored twice in the middle frame and never relinquished the lead. Cam Talbot, who was coming off back-to-back shutouts, started the game but allowed four goals on 18 shots and was replaced by Laurent Brossoit after Anaheim scored its fourth marker at 11:23 of the second. Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists, while Leon Draisaitl (one goal, one assist) and Patrick Maroon (two assists) each had two-point nights.
Video: Colorado and Edmonton meet for the second time
Last Time They Met
It's been exactly four months since the last meeting between Edmonton and Colorado, who last faced each other on Nov. 23 in the Mile High City. The Avalanche got on the board first and held a 3-2 lead after 40 minutes of play, but the Oilers scored three goals in the first 7:30 of the final frame to take a 5-3 lead and added an empty-net marker to leave Pepsi Center with a 6-3 win. With a goal and three assists, Milan Lucic paced Edmonton with four points, while Connor McDavid chipped in a goal and two helpers. Rene Bourque scored twice for the Avs, and Nathan MacKinnon added a goal and an assist.
What to Watch
Matt Duchene Versus the Oilers
Duchene's goal on March 15 vs. Detroit was his 414th career point, tying Valeri Kamensky for 10th place on the franchise's all-time points list. It also snapped a career-long 11-game pointless streak for Duchene. On Thursday, he'll face a team he's had consistent success against throughout his career.
Duchene has totaled 29 points (seven goals, 22 assists) in 28 career games against the Oilers, his highest point total against a single opponent. His 29 points are also tied for sixth (Kamensky) in scoring against Edmonton in Avalanche history.
Edmonton on the Road
The Oilers will be playing the second half of a back-to-back set on Thursday night after facing Anaheim on Wednesday. It's the only two road games of the entire month for the Oilers, who spend a lot of time at Rogers Place to close out the regular season. They have 13 of their last 18 contests (beginning March 4) on home ice.
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl each rank in the top 10 in scoring on the road this season. McDavid is second with 46 points (15 goals, 31 assists) in 39 contests away from Rogers Place, while Draisaitl sits in the No. 10 spot with 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) on the road.
Player to Watch
Colorado: Left wing Blake Comeau
Comeau has registered a point in five consecutive home games, and his seven points (one goal, six assists) in the Avs' last seven contests at Pepsi Center are tops on the team in that time frame. He has nine points (five goals, four assists) in 17 career contests against the Oilers.
Edmonton: Center Leon Draisaitl
Draisaitl has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) in his last five games and has amassed 67 points (25 goals, 42 assists) in 73 contests this season, setting career highs for points, goals, and assists. He tallied a goal and an assist in the first meeting against the Avalanche and has four points (one goal, three assists) in four career matches against the Avs.
Jeremy Smith is expected to get the nod in net Thursday night, his seventh start of the 2016-17 campaign.
Thursday night's game between the Oilers and the Avalanche begins at 7 p.m. MT, and tickets are still available. Altitude TV will carry the television broadcast, and the contest can be heard on Altitude Sports Radio AM950 or online at ColoradoAvalanche.com.