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Oilers, Avs end season searching for a victory

by Corey Masisak

OILERS (25-45-11) at AVALANCHE (29-44-8)


Last 10:
Edmonton 2-6-2; Colorado 2-8-0

Season series: Edmonton has won three of the first five contests. Colorado's 3-2 shootout victory on March 20, which snapped a 10-game losing streak for the Avalanche, was the most recent meeting.

Big story: The Oilers can surpass last season's point total and avoid having the fewest victories in franchise history with a victory. The Avalanche would avoid finishing with fewer than 30 wins for the first time since the franchise was in Quebec City with a victory.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton committed to a season of youth and learning at the NHL level, and the Oilers will finish with the fewest points in the League for a second-straight season. Taylor Hall is the centerpiece of the rebuild, but a season-ending injury for him allowed other members of the franchise's collection of young talents more exposure.

"We have a lot to work on," forward Magnus Paajarvi said. "We can't just fall down, go up, then fall down again. We have to be more consistent than that, that's what the good teams do."

Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle were part of a "big three" for the Oilers with Hall, but Linus Omark and Teemu Hartilkainen have shown plenty of promise as well. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk has also had a strong finish to the season, allowing a total of three goals in his past three starts and yielded two goals or less in six of his last 10 outings.

Avalanche: Colorado's season was defined by a second-half slump and a crippling array of injuries. The shorthanded Avalanche played well in back-to-back losses to Dallas as the Stars were able to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Matt Duchene had a solid sophomore year and cemented his place as a franchise forward. The Avalanche will have another top-three draft pick in the first round in June and will have an extra first-round pick then or in 2012 thanks to the trade that sent Chris Stewart and Kevin Shattenkirk to St. Louis for Erik Johnson and Jay McClement.

Who's hot: Eberle has four points in the past four games and has claimed the team scoring lead for Edmonton. ... Brandon Yip has three goals in the past two games for Colorado. He had gone the previous 27 contests without one.

Injury report: The Oilers are not only missing Hall but several other key forwards including Ales Hemsky, Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff. Top defenseman Ryan Whitney is also out. ... The Avalanche have eight players who have been lost to season-ending injuries, including top center Paul Stastny and top defenseman Jon-Michael Liles. Johnson and Matt Hunwick missed the game Friday against Dallas and are doubtful for the finale.

Stat pack: Colorado has lost a franchise-record 464 man games because of injury. The Avalanche have also dressed 39 players for at least one game -- more than any other year in club history.

Puck drop:
It will be an emotional day for Colorado defenseman Adam Foote, who will play his final game in the NHL. Foote has missed the past 12 games with an ankle injury, but he will dress and play as much as he can.

"I don't know what I'm going to be able to do out there," Foote told reporters. "I'm going to dress and see what happens with the ankle. I wish I could be with the boys now. A lot of the guys are dropping down. We've had so many injuries this year."

Foote won the Stanley Cup twice, an Olympic gold medal and the Word Cup of Hockey during his career, which included more than 1,100 regular season games and 170 playoffs contests in the NHL.

"I think it'll be special and I know the guys are OK with it if I can come in and give what I can and say goodbye to the fans and have one last good feeling in the Pepsi Center," Foote said.

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