The Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers are tied for ninth place in the Western Conference as they struggle to get into the playoff picture.
There's been little doubt, however, which team has had the recent edge in their season series.
With both teams coming off key division losses, the Avalanche look to win their fourth straight game over the Oilers when the teams meet Saturday.
Colorado (25-22-4) and Edmonton (25-23-4), rivals in the Northwest Division, remain on the outskirts of the playoff race in the West with 54 points apiece - six back of the eighth and final postseason berth. They both lost 5-3 on Thursday night to teams ahead of them, with the Avalanche losing to Minnesota and the Oilers falling to Vancouver.
"We've got Edmonton coming in ... and we have to try to make sure we get the two points there," Colorado captain Joe Sakic said.
The Avalanche have outscored the Oilers 18-10 since losing the first two games of their season series. Colorado's Andrew Brunette had three power-play goals for his first career hat trick, but the team still needed plenty more offense to beat Edmonton 7-6 on Dec. 19 in the last meeting.
Brunette had one of the Avalanche's goals Thursday, giving him six in his last nine games. He is second on the team with 19 goals and 46 points.
Brett Clark and Marek Svatos added goals and Milan Hejduk had two assists for Colorado. Wojtek Wolski extended his point streak to a career-high four games (one goal, four assists).
The Oilers will be without Jarret Stoll, who aggravated his fractured nose after being elbowed Thursday. He is returning to Edmonton while the Oilers conclude a two-game road trip. Stoll has two goals in his last three games against Colorado.
Edmonton is playing the second of nine road games in February. The Oilers are 9-12-2 away from home, but are 3-2-1 since Jan. 5.
Edmonton's Dwayne Roloson returned to net Thursday, making 29 saves, after watching backup Jussi Markkanen win his second straight start Wednesday. Roloson was singled out by coach Craig MacTavish, though, with the goaltender being beat by a 20-foot backhander through his legs.
"We couldn't get the save when we needed one," MacTavish said. "Not that Rollie was bad, but we needed him to make the save. ... You can't fault the goalie, but you need a save in those situations."
MacTavish could go back to Markkanen because of Roloson's 4.98 goals-against average in five games against the Avalanche this season. Markkanen is 0-2-0 with a 3.41 GAA in five career games against Colorado.
Oilers center Petr Nedved, acquired from Philadelphia off waivers on Jan. 2, was benched for a third straight game. Nedved has one goal and three assists in 10 games with Edmonton.
Ryan Smyth was held without a point for the Oilers on Thursday after recording three goals and four assists in his previous three games. He leads the team with 26 goals and 43 points.