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Avalanche cruise to 6-0 win over Oilers

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER – First met worst Monday night at the Pepsi Center with predictable results.
Kyle Cumiskey had the first two-goal game of his NHL career and three teammates contributed three points apiece to lead the Northwest Division-leading Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 rout over the cellar-dwelling Edmonton Oilers.
"We had guys that were excited to play," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "It seemed like they couldn't get on the ice quick enough. We got off to a good start and we were able to carry that momentum through the whole game."
Matt Duchene collected two goals and an assist to take over the NHL scoring lead among rookies with 33 points, John-Michael Liles had a goal and two assists to match a career best for points, and Wojtek Wolski added three assists as the Avalanche extended their winning streak to four games to equal a season high.
The reeling Oilers, meanwhile, have lost eight consecutive games (0-7-1) and gone 1-14-1 since Dec. 15.
"It's a game where you know they're struggling," Liles said. "Any time you get a team like that, you want to get out and jump on them early. Fortunately, we were able to do that and not let them back in the game."
Five Avalanche defensemen combined for three goals and five assists while logging between 21 and nearly 25 minutes after Ryan Wilson left in the first period with a head injury on a hit by J.F. Jacques.
"They really stepped it up when Willy went down," Sacco said. "And we wanted to make sure that our forwards understood to make it easy on our ‘D' tonight by not turning the puck over and making their job a little bit easier."
Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson wasn't tested often, but he finished with 24 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and made a big stop on Patrick O'Sullivan late in the second period, shortly before Cumiskey cashed in Paul Stastny's return pass at 18:13 to make it 4-0.
"It was a key save at the time," Sacco said. "It was nice for our team and for Andy to get the shutout. We did a good job defensively and we didn't sit back. That allowed us to spend less time in our own end."
Anderson has played all four games during the winning streak and allowed a total of six goals.
"Everybody's buying into the system," he said. "We've got some great young players that have stepped up. Everybody is playing together and doing their job."

"We had guys that were excited to play.  It seemed like they couldn't get on the ice quick enough. We got off to a good start and we were able to carry that momentum through the whole game."
-- Avalanche coach Joe Sacco

Cumiskey, a 23-year-old speedster, scored his second goal of the game on a power play at 1:28 of the third period and Duchene, who turned 19 on Saturday, followed with his second of the night and 15th of the season at 5:47.
"I'm getting a lot of shots on goal and eventually they're going to go in," said Cumiskey, who has six goals in 33 games this year – he missed 16 games with a foot  injury – after scoring once in 53 games in three previous NHL seasons. "I think every game I'm getting a little bit better offensively. It definitely makes me more comfortable on the ice. It takes some minutes to get that."
The Avalanche scored twice in each of the first two periods, with Chris Stewart and Cumiskey connecting in the second period for a 4-0 lead.
Stewart was parked in front when he deflected Kyle Quincey's one-timer from just inside the blue line behind Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers at 6:25 before Cumiskey cashed in Stastny's pass between the legs of Edmonton's Jason Strudwick.
The Avalanche took a 2-0 lead in the first period on goals by Liles and Duchene.
Liles collected his first goal in nine games at 12:09 when he followed his own shot from the left circle and tapped a bouncing puck across the goal line.
"It had been a while since I scored a goal, so it felt good," Liles said.
Duchene connected during a 5-on-3 power play at the 15-minute mark when he swept in the rebound of Wolski's long shot."

I'm really focusing on everything but offense right now, to be honest with you," Duchene said. "I'm just playing a really good two-way game – not just in my own end, but in the neutral zone and making sure I'm not having too many turnovers. I'm finishing checks, backchecking hard and picking guys' pockets in the neutral zone. I think when you make that a priority, the offense takes care of itself."
The Oilers continued to have problems at both ends of the ice.

"It's frustrating, obviously," Shawn Horcoff said. "It's a hard situation, but tonight the effort was not there. We can stick to our system, but when the effort's not there … two lazy changes cost us goals. You just can't play hockey like that when you're in our situation. You have to show more care."

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