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Injury-plagued Avs head to Edmonton

by Brian Compton
AVALANCHE (12-8-1) at OILERS (5-11-4)

TV: NHL-Network (U.S.), TSN, RDS, ALT.

Last 10: Colorado 6-4-0; Edmonton 2-6-2.

Season Series: This is the first of six meetings between the Northwest Division rivals. The Avalanche went 3-2-1 against the Oilers in 2009-10.

Big Story: Just when Colorado coach Joe Sacco thought his goaltending situation was shored up with the return of Craig Anderson, the latter suffered another injury on Wednesday night and was forced to leave after the first period due to a groin injury. Colorado dropped a 4-2 decision at Vancouver, which ended a four-game winning streak.

Anderson was making just his second start after missing 10 games with a knee injury sustained during warm-ups for an Oct. 26 game, also in Vancouver.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Not only did Colorado lose its No. 1 goaltender after 20 minutes on Wednesday night, but it also lost captain Adam Foote late in the first period. The veteran defenseman had to be helped off the ice after sustaining a leg injury, which put the Avalanche -- who now share first place in the Northwest with Vancouver -- in an enormous hole. Both are unlikely to be in the lineup against the Oilers, which means Sacco must once again turn to Peter Budaj in goal. Budaj stopped 9 of 12 shots after Anderson was forced to leave the game.

"Peter (Budaj) came in and played fine," Sacco said. "I don't think there was any issue there.

"When you lose one defenseman, you're down to five so that changes the chemistry a little bit back there. But I'd say overall we just weren't good enough tonight."

Oilers: A 5-0 loss at Phoenix on Tuesday night left Edmonton coach Tom Renney in a very foul mood, and rightfully so. Renney -- who labeled the loss "a joke" and "an absolute travesty" -- put his team through a physically-draining skate on Wednesday and hopes for a much better effort against the Avs on Thursday night.

"Nobody said we were going to win the Stanley Cup this year," Renney said. "It is a work in progress, and the one thing I don't want to see happen here is people bail out on this, on our expectation of becoming a good team as the season goes on.

"It's not going to happen overnight and we've shown some touches where we've been good, and we've shown some times when we haven't been very good, and I don't think that should come as a surprise to anybody."

Who's Hot: Avs defenseman John-Michael Liles had a goal and an assist Wednesday night. He now has 22 points (4 goals, 18 assists) in 21 games. … Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney doesn't have a goal, but he leads Edmonton with 17 points.

Injury Report: As if the injuries to Anderson and Foote aren't enough, Colorado is also without Kyle Cumiskey (concussion), T.J. Galiardi (broken wrist), Peter Mueller (concussion) and David Van Der Gulik (torn MCL). … Oilers defenseman Ladislav Smid (concussion) is day-to-day. Goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (groin) is out.

Stat Pack: With Wednesday's loss, Colorado fell to 0-7 when scoring two or fewer goals. … The Oilers currently have the worst-ranked power play in the League. They've scored only once via the man advantage in the last six games. They've lost five of those contests.

Puck Drop:  "Some guys want it to be easy, but this is the best League in the world. It's never going to be easy. We think after one (win) that it's going to be easy and we forget how hard it was to get that win." -- Oilers forward Sam Gagner after Tuesday's 5-0 loss at Phoenix
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