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Avalanche look for response to Oilers' rout

by Matthew Mankiewich

OILERS (11-22-3) at AVALANCHE (22-10-1)


Last 10: Colorado 5-4-1, Edmonton 3-6-1

Season series: Second of three, but this one comes on the heels of a high and low point for either team, an 8-2 rout of the Colorado Avalanche by the Edmonton Oilers exactly two weeks before at Rexall Place, Edmonton's fifth win over Colorado in six games. Taylor Hall had a hat trick, leading six Oilers scorers.

Big story: The most frustrating thing of all for the Oilers after that win was not being able to build on it, getting one overtime win since and losing four in a row (1-4-1). The Avalanche have fared better (3-3-1), but the most important development is the resurgence of forward Matt Duchene, who has seven points in his past four games.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton knows what it did to Colorado, and forward Jordan Eberle certainly knows what the Oilers will be facing.

"Anytime a team beats you like what we did to them, you want to come back with a good response, especially in your own building," he said Wednesday. "So we expect a different game, for sure, but for us, we've lost four in a row, so we have to get back on the right track."

Forward David Perron said, "We just have to expect more of ourselves. We can't just wait for bounces to happen, like if we just had the right bounces we could have tied the game up yesterday (a 3-0 loss to the Los Angeles Kings). It gets old very quickly when you live that way. Every NHL game you go through there are bounces and if you don't get them you might not win, but the good teams find a way to get them and if they don't they'll keep coming at them and the next game they'll get them. It's really not about the bounces, it's about working hard and when you do that, everything happens the right way."

Oilers defenseman Corey Potter is eligible to play Saturday versus the St. Louis Blues after serving a two-game suspension for boarding Nick Bonino of the Anaheim Ducks last Sunday.

Avalanche: When coach Patrick Roy addressed the media Wednesday, the first question was his choice of starting goalie.

"We were happy with our goaltending those two games but we're going with Varly," Roy said referring to Semyon Varlamov, who bore the full brunt of the Oilers' eight-goal attack but played well in a 6-2 win against the Dallas Stars on Monday.

Another reason the Avalanche feel more confident going into Thursday night is Duchene's recent play. Not only is he racking up points again after overcoming an oblique injury and an illness, but he broke the team's 0-for-31 power-play drought with a goal in Colorado's 3-2 loss to Dallas in the back end of the home-and-home Tuesday.

"I'm feeling normal again, back to where I was before I got hurt," he said Wednesday. "It's crazy how long it takes sometimes to feel normal again. I think what happened was you have a week-and-a-half or two weeks when you're injured, you come back, you get sick right away, you play three, four or five games where you don't feel right and kind of forget where you were at. I think there were a couple of little things I wasn't doing and when I started doing them again, everything fell back into place."

Who's hot: Hall played his 200th NHL game Tuesday and has 28 points in 29 games this season. … Avalanche forward Paul Stastny picked up two goals and two assists Monday; forward P.A. Parenteau had three assists. Since the Dec. 5 game in Edmonton, Varlamov has not allowed more than three goals in four starts (2-1-1).

Injury report: Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson (back) has missed two games and is questionable. … Oilers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (lower body) remains on injured reserve with no set return date.

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