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Avalanche 5, Oilers 1 @NHLdotcom

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) -As Edmonton's losses pile up, it's getting tough for Oilers coach Craig MacTavish to find any positives.

The Oilers have lost 12 straight after they were routed 5-1 by the Avalanche on Wednesday night. Edmonton is also winless in 11 games since trading forward Ryan Smyth to the New York Islanders, and is nearing the team-record 14 game winless streak from the 1993-94 season.

"The best indicator of the things to come was turning over the puck three times in the first 13 seconds of the game," MacTavish said. "When you are at a size and skill disadvantage you want to make sure you are playing a smart game and we started off not playing that way.

"Our biggest weakness was our inability to defend. We vacated the dangerous areas of the ice. It was disappointing on a lot of fronts."

Colorado is headed in the other direction, with its sights on the Stanley Cup playoffs.

With the victory the surging Avalanche are 9-0-1 in their last 10 games and pressing hard for a postseason spot. They are four points behind the Calgary Flames for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"We came out hard in the first period which we knew we had to do against a team which is down like theirs," said Tyler Arnason, who had a career-high three assists. "We knew we had to get the lead and if we did we would have a good chance. We have a lot of confidence right now. It is just snowballing."

Ian Laperriere had two goals, Joe Sakic, John-Michael Liles and Brett Clark also scored for Colorado, which has won four in a row.

Patrick Thoresen had the only goal for Edmonton.

The Avs admit things are going well right now as they jumped from a team facing a double-digit deficit less than a month ago to within striking distance of the playoffs.

"We have a lot of momentum right now and a lot of confidence," said Colorado coach Joel Quenneville. "We feel good about ourselves and are doing a good job keeping in that must win mode."

Laperriere says the Avalanche players are trying not to get too far ahead of themselves.

"We're just taking it one game at a time," he said. "Every point is so huge right now. We have nine games left and are four points back, and we can't afford to let up. I like the way we are playing right now and the way we have approached our games. It is something we will have to repeat and repeat and repeat here."

The Avalanche buried Edmonton quickly in this one, scoring 1:29 in. The Oilers couldn't clear a puck bouncing around in the crease in front of goalie Dwayne Roloson and Laperriere was there to swat it in.

Colorado quickly went up 2-0 as Andrew Brunette outmuscled Raffi Torres behind the Edmonton net and sent a backhand pass out front to Sakic. He one-timed his 31st goal of the season.

Colorado got another early goal in the second period against the injury-riddled Oilers. Arnason found Laperriere with a no-look backhand pass from behind the net and Laperriere scored on a wrist shot for his second of the night and a 3-0 lead.

The Avalanche chased Roloson at 14:17 of the second period as Liles scored on a power-play point shot.

Jussi Markkanen came on and didn't fare much better. The Avs went ahead 5-0 a minute and a half later when Clark converted a 2-on-1 pass from Brunette.

Edmonton beat Peter Budaj in the third period when Fernando Pisani picked off a pass while short-handed. Pisani saw the rebound of his shot squirt to Thoresen, who scored his first goal since Oct. 17.

"The way the game was going I only felt like I should put one arm in the air to celebrate," said Thoresen. "But it was nice to get a goal when it has been so long."

Notes: The Oilers and Avalanche meet again here on Friday. ... With Calgary's 2-1 victory over Detroit on Tuesday, the Oilers were officially eliminated from the playoffs, one year removed from playing in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. With nine games to go, it marked the earliest Edmonton has ever been knocked out of contention. ... With the Oilers out, veteran defenseman Steve Staios opted to have surgery on his left knee. Staios was one of 10 injured players missing from the Edmonton lineup. ... Budaj has played in all but four of the Avalanche's last 33 games. ... The Avalanche haven't missed the playoffs since moving to Colorado from Quebec City in 1995. ... Colorado's Paul Stastny was held pointless, ending his NHL rookie-record road scoring streak at 15 consecutive games.

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