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Avs try to build on win vs. Oilers

by John Kreiser /
OILERS (19-33-8) at AVALANCHE (26-27-7)


Last 10 -- Edmonton 4-6-0; Colorado 1-8-1

Season series -- The Northwest Division rivals are meeting for just the third time this season and the first at the Pepsi Center. They've split two games in Edmonton, with the Oilers winning 3-2 on Nov. 25 on a last-minute goal by Taylor Hall, and the Avs earning a 4-3 shootout win on Dec. 30.

Big story -- Both teams are playing for the second time in as many nights, but the Avs figure to be in a lot better mood after ending a 10-game losing streak with a 4-3 win at St. Louis. The Oilers were beaten 4-1 at Minnesota, their 15th consecutive loss at the Xcel Energy Center.

Team Scope:

Avalanche -- Thanks to a weather-related postponement, Erik Johnson and Jay McClement got to see their former St. Louis teammates just three days after being traded to Colorado. Johnson, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 Entry Draft, made it a night to remember by scoring the go-ahead goal in Colorado's 4-3 victory.

Johnson, who got an ovation from the crowd in St. Louis, said he wasn't bitter about being dealt.

"You never want to leave a place where you're comfortable," he said. "Such is life. That's the way the business is. I thank everybody in St. Louis that helped me. But this is a great opportunity for me."

Oilers -- Edmonton has struggled on the power play all season, and the failure to produce anything during a 91-second 5-on-3 power play early in the third period at Minnesota -- leaving coach Tom Renney more than a little miffed.

"When you got a 5-on-3, you want to make sure you get traffic at the net so you at least feel like it's a good idea to shoot," he said. "It always looks pretty when you get to look at highlights and see nice tuck-in goals or whatever, but the bottom line is you got to get greasy, you got to get dirty, you got to get the puck to the net with bodies."

Who's hot -- Edmonton's Ales Hemsky has 7 points in his last four games. … Colorado's Paul Stastny had a goal and 2 assists on Tuesday, his first multi-point game since Jan. 18.

Injury report -- Edmonton defenseman Taylor Chorney left after the second period of Tuesday's game because of a right knee injury. Defenseman Ryan Whitney is gone for the season after ankle surgery, and forward Gilbert Brule is still sidelined with an illness. … The Avs got a life from the return of center Matt Duchene on Tuesday after he misses two games with a finger injury. Defenseman Jonas Holos also returned after missing four games with a head injury. However, Colorado is still without a half-dozen regulars, including captain Adam Foote (leg), defenseman Kyle Cumiskey (head) and forward T.J. Galiardi (arm).

Stat pack -- The Avs have shut out Edmonton the last two meetings in Denver, outscoring the Oilers 9-0 and outshooting them 76-44 -- both with recently traded Craig Anderson in goal. … The Avs' 10-game losing streak (0-9-1) was their longest since the franchise moved from Quebec to Denver in 1995.

Puck drop -- Johnson said he had no bitterness against his former team. But getting his first goal for his new team against his old club in the only arena he'd ever called home was a treat.

"I just wanted to make sure I didn't celebrate at the wrong bench," Johnson said with a smile. "I want to get to the right bench to make the fist pumps. It's a very wonderful feeling to score against your old team in your old building."

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