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Oilers, Avalanche looking to get untracked

by Rick Sadowski

DENVER -- The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers, two teams looking to get back on track, meet Thursday at Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have been held to two goals or fewer in five of their past eight games while posting a 3-4-1 record. They are 3-3-1 in their past seven home games after winning eight of the first 10, and are in a 1-for-37 slump on the power play in the past 12.

The Oilers have been outscored 10-2 and shut out twice while losing the first three games of a four-game road trip. They've lost four in a row overall and have been outscored 14-2.

Edmonton has beaten Colorado in five of the past six meetings, including an 8-2 win Dec. 5 at Rexall Place when Taylor Hall had three goals and an assist and goalie Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves.

Dubnyk has had a great deal of success against the Avalanche and will start Thursday. He's 8-3-1 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .943 save percentage in 13 games against the Avalanche.

"There's just a feeling that you get in some places," Dubnyk said. "There's no real reason for it besides maybe you happened to play some good games in a row and you're able to use that good feeling. When you have that feeling against certain teams it doesn't change the way you approach a game.

"They'll be coming out hard and we're looking to wrap up the road trip on a good note. We probably caught them on a rare night and I don't think the game was as far off as the score indicated. This is a good hockey team and we always have good games against them. I don't think anyone in our room expects that that game in our building is going to be like what we're going to see [Thursday]."

The Avalanche took seven penalties in the Dec. 5 game and allowed three power-play goals while going 0-for-6 with the man advantage.

"I have to admit the quality of their shots was there," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said. "They scored really nice goals. We were buzzing at the start of the game and we took a penalty and then another one right after to give them a 5-on-3 and it's a 3-0 game.

"They're certainly really good on the rush. They have skills, but at the same time we're going to have to play well offensively and we're going to have to try and expose their defensemen. This is where we're going to have to put a good forecheck and pressure their defense, and hopefully score on them."

Goalie Semyon Varlamov will get another crack at the Oilers on Thursday. In 12 games against Edmonton he's 4-8-0 with a 3.36 goals-against average and .888 save percentage.

Here are the projected lineups for the Oilers and Avalanche:


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Nail Yakupov - Sam Gagner - David Perron

Ryan Smyth - Boyd Gordon - Ales Hemsky

Luke Gazdic - Anton Lander - Ryan Jones

Philip Larsen - Justin Schultz

Nick Schultz - Anton Belov

Jeff Petry - Andrew Ference

Devan Dubnyk

Ilya Bryzgalov

Scratched: Jesse Joensuu, Anton Lander

Suspended: Corey Potter

Injured: Mark Arcobello (ribs)


Ryan O'Reilly - Matt Duchene - Nathan MacKinnon

Gabriel Landeskog - Paul Stastny - PA Parenteau

Jamie McGinn - John Mitchell - Maxime Talbot

Cody McLeod - Marc-Andre Cliche - Patrick Bordeleau

Erik Johnson - Jan Hejda

Andre Benoit - Cory Sarich

Nate Guenin - Tyson Barrie

Semyon Varlamov

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Scratched: Nick Holden, Brad Malone, Ryan Wilson

Injured: Alex Tanguay (knee, hip)

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