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Oilers spoil Elliott's debut with Avs

by Rick Sadowski
DENVER – This hardly was the way Brian Elliott envisioned beginning his Colorado Avalanche career.

Playing his first game since Friday's trade from the Ottawa Senators, the 25-year-old goalie struggled Wednesday night in the Avalanche's 5-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers at the Pepsi Center.

But Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk, a 6-foot-6 rookie, was solid while turning aside 38 shots as the Western Conference's 15th-place Oilers handed the 14th-place Avalanche their 11th defeat in the past 12 games.

Another Oilers rookie, Taylor Hall, collected a goal and an assist, as did Jordan Eberle, while Tom Gilbert chipped in two assists.

Elliott was acquired in exchange for goalie Craig Anderson, who has allowed one goal in winning both of his starts for the Senators. A Canadian citizen, Elliott needed to have visa and immigration issues resolved before he could join the Avalanche, and he didn't arrive in Denver until late Tuesday night.

"You try to get as much rest as you can," said Elliott, who faced 31 shots. "I got in a good skate this morning. But no excuses, you want to play well every time you're out there. I skated a few times on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I got out there with not the ideal kind of skating you want."

Elliott couldn't be blamed for the Oilers first three goals, two of which came on power plays, but he was beaten to the short side on long shots by Eberle and Kurtis Foster less than two minutes apart in the third period.

"I had a little bit of nerves going, but I think I settled down after the first couple minutes there," said Elliott, who went 1-9-5 in his final 15 decisions with Ottawa, the lone win a 5-3 decision against Edmonton on Feb. 12. "There were a couple bad breaks on their power play. Obviously I want those last two back."

Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said it was a "tough" game for Elliott to play, but Peter Budaj needed a rest after facing 45 shots in Tuesday's 4-3 win in St. Louis, which ended the team's 10-game losing streak.

"(Elliot) had been off for a few days, but obviously we had to get him in there," Sacco said.

The Avalanche outshot the Oilers 13-3 in the first period, but Edmonton scored the only goal on a power play, 29 seconds after Kevin Porter went off for high sticking.
Shawn Horcoff slipped a pass through the goalmouth to Dustin Penner, who got behind new Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson and redirected the puck inside the left post at 14:17.

"They came pretty hard at the start," Dubnyk said. "Any time you play a game on the road, you have to assume that the other team is going to come with a pretty hard push right off the bat. You just want to stay composed and not get running around. We did a good job of weathering it and we got that power play opportunity to capitalize right away."

The Oilers, who have won four of their past five games, didn't stop there.
Sam Gagner and Hall scored second-period goals and Edmonton took a 3-0 lead before Milan Hejduk connected on a late power-play for what proved to be the
Avalanche's only goal of the game.

Gagner scored from the slot at 7:08 after an airborne puck bounced off the stick of Avalanche forward Philippe Dupuis. Hall was alone on the right side of the crease when he cashed in the rebound of Eberle's shot from the left circle at 15:49 on a power play.

 "Finally we get the monkey off our back and we thought it was going to be a different story," Hejduk said of Tuesday's streak-busting win. "We started pretty good. We had some jump and some scoring chances and we didn't bury them."

The Avalanche was showered with boos after totaling one shot on goal during consecutive power plays in-between the Oilers goals.

Hejduk ended Dubnyk's shutout with a power-play goal at 17:36. Matt Duchene fed Hejduk for a shot that eluded Dubnyk to the short side.

"Our goaltending has been outstanding for us," Gilbert said. "Special teams have been great and we're competing five on five. We've got great chemistry going. Guys are moving the puck well and sacrificing."

The Avalanche lost defenseman Ryan O'Byrne early in the first period when he suffered facial lacerations caused by a skate blade.

"They had to take him and get him sewn up," Sacco said. "Any time a skate gets near the face, it's always dangerous and it's scary. We just hope he's going to be OK. I'll know more tomorrow."
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