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At the Rink: Oilers at Avalanche

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- Center Ryan O'Reilly is playing his best hockey of the season, but he realizes it could be too late to help the Colorado Avalanche reach their goal of landing a place in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

O'Reilly has a seven-game scoring streak for the Avalanche, who play the Edmonton Oilers at Pepsi Center on Monday (9 p.m. ET; SN1, ALT) to conclude a two-game homestand.

The Avalanche (35-28-12) can close to within six points of the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs if they can defeat the Oilers (22-40-13). They have seven games remaining, one more than the Jets.

O'Reilly was named the NHL's third star of the week after he had a goal and seven assists in four games. He has four goals and eight assists in his streak, with four goals and 19 assists in the past 20 games.

"To get a star is great, but it was kind of a frustrating week," said O'Reilly, whose Avalanche went 2-2-0. "If we won those other games we'd be in a much different spot now, much closer."

O'Reilly won the Lady Byng Trophy last season when he had 28 goals, 36 assists and two penalty minutes in 80 games. This season, after a slow start, he has 14 goals, a career-high 38 assists and 12 penalty minutes in 75 games.

He's been centering a line with left wing Gabriel Landeskog and right wing Alex Tanguay. They have combined for 16 goals and 26 assists in the past 12 games.

"It's easy to produce playing with those guys because they make so much happen," O'Reilly said. "Unfortunately, we're not in a playoff spot, but to have these high-intensity games with a lot of pressure on them, they're exciting games. As a kid you dream of playing in big games and stepping up and making stuff happen.

"If we win every game we have a chance to get in. Our mindset is, get the next two points and see where we are and keep doing that and not worry about winning them all. That's the mentality we have to maintain."

Oilers coach Todd Nelson said goalie Richard Bachman will start. Bachman, who played at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, made 29 saves Friday in a 4-0 win against the Dallas Stars.

"Being at home, I spent a lot of time here," said Bachman, who has played in five games since his Feb. 10 recall from the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League. "It's special to be able to come here and play. I just want to go out there and try and have a good performance and help the team. You want to have a good performance and enjoy it."

Here are the projected lineups:


Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Teddy Purcell - Derek Roy - Nail Yakupov

Taylor Hall - Anton Lander - Andrew Miller

Luke Gazdic - Rob Klinkhammer - Matt Fraser

Oscar Klefbom - Justin Schultz

Martin Marincin - Nikita Nikitin

Keith Aulie - Brandon Davidson

Richard Bachman

Ben Scrivens

Scratched: None

Injured: Boyd Gordon (back), Viktor Fasth (knee), Mark Fayne (shoulder), Andrew Ference (upper body), Matt Hendricks (back), Iiro Pakarinen (knee), Tyler Pitlick (lacerated spleen),


Gabriel Landeskog - Ryan O'Reilly - Alex Tanguay

John Mitchell - Matt Duchene - Jarome Iginla

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Dennis Everberg

Jordan Caron - Joey Hishon - Freddie Hamilton

Jan Hejda - Zach Redmond

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Nick Holden - Brad Stuart

Semyon Varlamov

Reto Berra

Scratched: None

Injured: Patrick Bordeleau (fractured kneecap), Daniel Briere (foot), Erik Johnson (knee), Jamie McGinn (back surgery), Nathan MacKinnon (broken foot), Borna Rendulic (broken leg), Ryan Wilson (shoulder), Jesse Winchester (concussion)

Status report: Nelson said Gordon and Hendricks could return Wednesday against the Anaheim Ducks or Thursday against the Los Angeles Kings. Hendricks will miss his second game, Gordon his third. … Roy said Johnson, who had knee surgery Jan. 26, will have his first full practice Tuesday to determine if he can play Wednesday against the San Jose Sharks. … Everberg will play Monday after sitting out the third period Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres because of a head injury.

Who's hot: Hall has one goal and three assists in a four-game streak. … Landeskog has two goals and four assists in a four-game streak. … Iginla has two goals and three assists in a three-game streak.

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