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Preview: Oilers at Avalanche

Edmonton can move back into tie for second in Pacific; Jeremy Smith to start for Colorado

by Rick Sadowski / Correspondent

OILERS (39-25-9) at AVALANCHE (20-49-3)

9 p.m. ET; ALT, SNW, NHL.TV


Oilers team scope

The Edmonton Oilers trail the Anaheim Ducks by two points for second place in the Pacific Division and are one ahead of the Calgary Flames with nine games remaining. "Everyone knows how tight the standings are," forward Leon Draisaitl told the Oilers website. "It was a big game, but we've got a lot more big games ahead of us." Goalie Cam Talbot is expected to make his 14th consecutive start and NHL-leading 67th appearance. He allowed four goals on 18 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Ducks on Wednesday which ended a four-game winning streak. Talbot had back-to-back shutouts before his streak ended at 148:18. Center Connor McDavid leads the League in scoring with 85 points (26 goals, 59 assists) in 73 games. The Oilers have a power-play goal in five consecutive games (7-of-19) and have killed 16-of-18 penalties in the past seven.


Avalanche team scope

Jeremy Smith is expected to make his second start in the past three games for the Colorado Avalanche. He had 28 saves in a 6-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday in his sixth NHL start since being recalled from San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Feb. 8. The Avalanche have been outscored 15-6 during a three-game losing streak and 21-11 in the past six games (0-1-5). "Our line's been really good, we've had a ton of chances and they'll start going in," said center Nathan MacKinnon, who is skating with left wing Sven Andrighetto and right wing Mikko Rantanen. "We just have to stay with it." Colorado's power play is 2-for-44 in the past 18 games.


Oilers projected lineup:

Patrick Maroon -- Connor McDavid -- Leon Draisaitl

Milan Lucic -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins -- Jordan Eberle

Benoit Pouliot -- David Desharnais -- Zack Kassian

Drake Caggiula -- Mark Letestu -- Anton Slepyshev

Oscar Klefbom -- Adam Larsson

Andrej Sekera -- Kris Russell

Darnell Nurse -- Matt Benning

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Scratched: Eric Gryba, Matt Hendricks, Jujhar Khaira, Iiro Pakarinen  

Injured: Tyler Pitlick (knee)


Avalanche projected lineup:

Sven Andrighetto -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen

Gabriel Landeskog -- Matt Duchene -- Matt Nieto

Mikhail Grigorenko -- J.T. Compher -- Rene Bourque

John Mitchell -- Carl Soderberg -- Blake Comeau

Mark Barberio -- Erik Johnson

Fedor Tyutin -- Tyson Barrie

Francois Beauchemin -- Anton Lindholm

Jeremy Smith

Calvin Pickard

Scratched: Joe Colborne, Cody Goloubef, Patrick Wiercioch

Injured: none


Status report

Benning is expected to replace Gryba after being a healthy scratch against Anaheim.


Who's hot

McDavid has 10 points (three goals, seven assists) during a five-game point streak, and 18 points (six goals, 12 assists) in the past 13 games. Draisaitl has 11 points (two goals, nine assists) during a five-game point streak. Maroon has six points (four goals, three assists) in the past five games. ... Barrie has an assist in three consecutive games. Comeau has five assists in the past eight games.

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