AVALANCHE (8-1-2) at OILERS (6-4-1)
First of four meetings this season. The teams split last season's series, with Colorado picking up an extra point by virtue of a 3-2 shootout win in Edmonton when Darcy Tucker tied the game with 10.7 seconds left in regulation and scored in the fifth round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker.
Colorado 7-1-2; Edmonton 6-3-1
Following a week spent back in the "Centennial State," it's time to hit the road again for Colorado, which posted a 4-1-2 mark on its initial seven-game trek. By the time they get back to the Pepsi Center on Nov. 4, the Avalanche will have played 11 of their first 15 games away from home.
This four-game road trip features games against all three teams from Western Canada, with a visit to San Jose mixed in for good measure. Colorado carries plenty of momentum from wins on consecutive nights against Carolina and Detroit last week. In the third period of a 3-1 win over the Wings, first-year coach Joe Sacco saw a total team effort to secure the two points.
"We had some things to overcome there in the third period, and we did. It was a credit to our guys. Our guys battled real hard tonight," Sacco told the Denver Post. "A lot of the things that go unnoticed on the scoresheet, that we see, though, as coaches -- blocking shots, guys laying it on the line, sacrificing their bodies -- there was some real good leadership out there."
A 5-1-0 stretch that lifted Edmonton into second place in the Northwest Division has given way to consecutive road losses over the weekend at Calgary and Vancouver. The Flames in particular have been a thorn in the Oilers' side early, as they're 0-2-1 against their Alberta rivals. On Sunday, they were blanked by one of the best in the business, Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.
Who's Hot --
It's becoming a broken record, but Avalanche goalie Craig Anderson almost single-handedly turned back the Wings with his 48 saves Saturday. Paul Stastny
, who sealed that game with an empty-netter, has three goals and four points in his last two games. And 18-year-old Ryan O'Reilly
continues to excel, with two goals and seven assists during a seven-game point streak.
Before they were shut down along with the rest of the Oilers by the Canucks, the top line of Dustin Penner, Sam Gagner
and Ales Hemsky
exploded for five goals and 18 points in the previous two games.
Injury Report --
Tucker (concussion) and fellow forward Cody McLeod
(eye) are not accompanying the Avalanche on this trip. Backup goalie Peter Budaj has been battling the flu. Defensemen John-Michael Liles (shoulder) and Ruslan Salei (back) are also out.
Edmonton forward Mike Comrie has missed the last two games with the flu. Defensemen Sheldon Souray and Steve Staios are recovering from concussions. Forward Fernando Pisani is close to returning from a back injury.
Stat Pack --
Anderson set a Colorado franchise record with his eighth win in October. He may get as many as three opportunities to add to that total, depending on which games he plays this week.
Puck Drop --
Any doubts about Anderson's ability to excel as a No. 1 goaltender seem to have been erased, not only through his statistics but his durability in starting all 11 games this season.
"He's giving everyone here confidence. You know if you make the odd mistake, he's there to back you up," Avs defender Kyle Quincey
told the Post. "You can't say enough good things about him. He's playing unbelievable."
-- Brian Hunter, NHL.com