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Oilers aiming for first win streak since December

by Robin Brownlee /
EDMONTON -- As modest as a two-game winning streak might be, that's the goal for the Edmonton Oilers when they face the Montreal Canadiens at Rexall Place Thursday (9 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS).

Coming off a 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars Tuesday, the Oilers will be looking to win two games in a row for the first time since winning four straight from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4 when the Canadiens visit to open a three-game road trip.

"Putting wins together, that's been the problem this season other than on that one road trip," said Andrew Cogliano. "There's something different going on right now. After winning the last game, I feel like we're not going to be complacent. We're going to come out and play hard again. You can't just win one game and lose the next one. You don't get anywhere like that."

That season-long four-game stretch included a 4-3 overtime win against the Canadiens in Montreal on Dec. 1, as well as road wins in Ottawa and Toronto and at home against St. Louis.

While the Oilers are out of playoff contention in the Western Conference, they're trying to embrace the spoiler role against teams in battles for playoff positions like the Canadiens.

"We need to be a team that's better at home and harder to play against at home," captain Shawn Horcoff said. "The biggest challenge for us now is to try to throw some consistency together. Tonight is going to be the first step in that direction."

After this one, Montreal travels to Calgary to play the Flames on Sunday at the 2011 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic at McMahon Stadium. The trip concludes in Vancouver next Tuesday.

Around the rink --
The Canadiens are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to Buffalo on Tuesday, a game in which they blew a 2-0 lead. ... Edmonton's power play connected twice in six attempts against Dallas after going 0-for-24 in its previous seven games. ... The Oilers went 1-for-5 on the power play in the win against the Habs on Dec. 1. ... Horcoff had a goal and two assists against Dallas in his first game back after missing two games with bronchitis. ... Benoit Pouliot has goals in three straight games and Max Pacioretty has a five-game point-scoring streak for Montreal. ... Ales Hemsky had a goal and 2 assists in the first meeting between the teams, but he also aggravated a strained groin and missed the next 10 games. ... Defenseman Paul Mara, obtained Wednesday by the Canadiens from Anaheim for a 2012 fifth-round draft pick, will take the pre-game warmups and be a game-time decision.
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