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Avs head to Edmonton looking for boost

by Deborah Francisco /
AVALANCHE (26-23-2) at OILERS (18-26-5)


Last 10: Avalanche 4-5-1, Oilers 2-6-2

Season Series: Edmonton leads the six-game season series 2-1 heading into Tuesday night’s faceoff between these two Northwest Division. The Oilers prevailed 4-1 over the Avalanche in their last meeting on December 9 in Edmonton. Sam Gagner scored a pair of goals and an assist in the victory.

Big Story: Both teams look to finish the month of January on a positive note as they faceoff in Edmonton on Tuesday night. So far in the new calendar year, Colorado has a record of 5-5-1 while Edmonton has a record of 3-7-2.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado is fighting tooth and nail to stay in the playoff picture but dropped back-to-back games before the All-Star break – including a 3-2 loss to division rival Minnesota – which could have given the Avs a hypothetical four points in the standings. With the loss, Colorado fell to the 9th spot in the West (54 points), just one point behind the Wild (55).

"It's disappointing because it was the biggest game of this year,” Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. “We just didn't bother giving it our best effort. It's just unacceptable."

Colorado will need to rediscover the success it had in late December when it won nine of ten from Dec. 17-Jan. 6.

Giguere started the last four games, but the Denver Post reports that Varlamov will start against the Oilers on Tuesday.

The Oilers are hovering at the bottom of the Western Conference standings – in 14th with 41 points – but they did manage to pick up three of a possible four points in their last two games. The dropped point came in a 3-2 shootout loss to division rival Vancouver 3-2 in the final game before the break.

Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky each had two points in the loss and Dubnyk made 33 saves. Despite the shootout loss, the Oilers were happy with their overall effort and hope to pick up where they left off going into the All-Star break.

"It was a really fun game to play, to be honest," Hall said. "After the first game of our three-in-four we wanted to regroup. That wasn't our best effort and I think our last two games have been very good and it’s good to go into the (All-Star) break feeling good about your game, and even though we didn’t win (Tuesday) we played a very solid game on the road.

"We're starting to get some guys back, which is great, but our compete level, our passion, our determination's gonna have to be on every night. That’s something that has to be mandatory with our team and the last two games were a sign of that."

Who’s Hot:
Hall had two points (1 goal, 1 assist) in his last game and has three in four games … Ryan O’Reilly continues to lead the Avs in points and has four (2 goals, 2 assists) in his last five outings.

Injury Report: For the Oilers, Cam Barker (ankle) tweeted that he may make his return later this week. Tom Gilbert (ankle) is also day-to-day, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) missed practice on Monday due to the flu, and the Oilers don’t expect his return for a few games. For now, he is still practicing with no contact. … According to the Denver Post, the Avalanche reported on Monday that Matt Duchene (knee) is still several weeks away from returning to the lineup and remains out indefinitely.

Stat Pack:
Edmonton is 6-3-1 in its last ten meetings with the Avalanche and is 12-8-3 at home this season, meaning Colorado will need to be at the top of its game in order to reclaim a playoff place.

Puck Drop: "There's 33 games, and every one of them can be used to send a message internally, to the rest of the league and to the fans." – Edmonton coach Tom Renney on his team’s plan for the second half of the season

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