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Oilers look to bounce back vs. Avalanche

by Dave Lozo

AVALANCHE (5-6-1) at OILERS (5-5-3)


Last 10: Colorado 4-5-1, Edmonton 3-4-3

Season series: This is the third of five meetings between the teams. They split the first two, with each team winning on home ice.

Big story: Both the Oilers and Avs are on the outside of the playoff picture as the season moves into the second quarter. They'll need to remedy their struggles in a hurry before the line of postseason demarcation moves too far off in the distance.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: Colorado fell behind midway through the third period Thursday against the Minnesota Wild, but Matt Duchene responded with a goal 46 seconds later to tie the score. In the shootout, Duchene and Milan Hejduk scored to give the Avs a much-needed 4-3 victory that snapped a three-game losing streak.

If Semyon Varlamov gets the start against the Oilers, he will enter the game having lost six of seven. Backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 26 saves to beat the Wild.

Oilers: Struggles to score at even strength have derailed a promising start to the season for the Oilers. Their 4-1 home loss to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday was their sixth defeat in seven games.

The Oilers have scored just 10 goals in their last six games, only seven at even strength.

Still, the Oilers were the victims of two bad bounces in their loss to the Stars that seemed to sap their spirits.

"Those first two goals were two of the most bizarre goals I've seen in a long time, and back to back that way was tough for us to swallow," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "The result was painful to look at when you look at our execution for most of the game. For the first two periods, it looked like we were going to have our first real 60-minute game of the season. That second goal seemed to deflate us.

"We went back to some complicated habits after that and abandoned what had made us successful to that point."

Who's hot: Avs forward PA Parenteau has two goals and an assist in four games this month. .. Despite the losses, Oilers goaltender Devin Dubnyk has a .926 save percentage in five February games.

Injury report: The Avs will be out without defenseman Erik Johnson (head) and forward Gabriel Landeskog (concussion). Ryan Wilson has been out for all but one game this month with a leg injury. … Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz (back) missed practice Thursday as a precaution.

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