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Avalanche begin four-game road trip vs. Oilers

by Brian Compton

AVALANCHE (50-21-7) at OILERS (28-42-9)


Last 10: Colorado 6-2-2; Edmonton 4-6-0

Season series: This is the third and final game between the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers. Each team has won once; Colorado avenged an 8-2 loss on Dec. 5 by earning a 4-2 win at Pepsi Center two weeks later.

Big story: Already guaranteed a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Avalanche are trying to assure themselves of home-ice advantage in the first round. Colorado enters Tuesday in second place in the Central Division, two points ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks with a game in hand.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado, which did not practice Monday, wraps up the regular season with a four-game road trip that begins at Rexall Place. The Avalanche closed out their home portion of the schedule Sunday night, when they suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Colorado finished 26-11-4 at Pepsi Center.

"What I want is just consistency, good effort like we did [Sunday] in the third period," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said of what he'd like to see from his team over the next four games. "Be resilient. This is who we are."

Oilers: Tuesday marks the second of a four-game homestand for Edmonton, which did not take the ice Monday due to preparations for a concert at Rexall Place. It's been another disappointing season for the Oilers, who are likely destined to have a top-three selection at the 2014 NHL Draft.

But, some of their talented young forwards are playing well; left wing Taylor Hall was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday after scoring two goals and seven assists in four games. Hall's line with center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and right wing Jordan Eberle has combined for 22 points (seven goals, 15 assists) in the past four games.

"We've played together quite a bit," Eberle told the Oilers website. "I think when we get together, we've done it enough that we know where each other will be. We get excited to play with each other and we really want to be the offensive threat out there. The last little bit here has gone good. I've played with them where we've had stretches where it hasn't gone good too. We just have to find that way to contribute every night and be that top line that we know we can be."

Who's hot: Avalanche forward Ryan O'Reilly has scored in back-to-back games and has a three-game point streak. Defenseman Tyson Barrie has a goal and two assists in the past four games. … Eberle has three goals and five assists in the past four games; Nugent-Hopkins is 2-3-5 in the past four.

Injury report: Colorado forward Cody McLeod (ankle) is day-to-day. Forwards PA Parenteau and Matt Duchene are out with knee injuries. … Oilers forwards Jesse Joensuu (ankle), Ryan Jones (torn PCL), Luke Gazdic (shoulder), Nail Yakupov (ankle) and defenseman Andrew Ference (chest) are out. Forward Tyler Pitlick (knee) is day-to-day.

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