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Struggling Avs visit slumping Oilers

by Davis Harper /

AVALANCHE (13-15-1) at OILERS (13-12-3)


LAST 10 : Colorado 5-5-0; Edmonton 4-5-1

Season Series: This is the third of six meetings between these Northwest Division rivals, who have split the first two, both in Denver. In the most recent meeting, Colorado scored four goals in the third period to win 5-3 on Nov. 26.

Big Story: Two teams separated by just two points in the Western Conference standings enter Friday looking to end forgettable streaks. Edmonton ends a disappointing five-game homestand - the Oilers are 1-3-0 thus far, while Colorado has lost two straight on its three-game Western Canada swing, including a 3-2 loss at Calgary on Thursday in which the Avs allowed all three goals in the third period.

Team Scope:

Avalanche: After winning three straight to finish a 4-1-0 homestand, Colorado promptly dropped the first two games of its three-game road swing. In the first, the Avs were flattened 6-0 in Vancouver on Tuesday. While they skated better in Thursday's 3-2 loss at Calgary - carrying a 1-0 lead into the final period - a costly high-sticking double minor on TJ Galiardi helped the Flames grab a 2-1 lead. Galiardi atoned by scoring a few minutes later, but Olli Jokinen bagged the go-ahead goal with 4:50 to play.

"I thought as a team it was nice we responded back," said goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who stopped 32 shots. "Unfortunately we gave them the third goal."

Oilers: Things have gone from bad to worse for Edmonton of late. The Oilers have lost four of five at Rexall Place, most recently a 5-3 defeat Wednesday at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes, who hadn't won since Nov. 21. Against the 'Canes, the Oilers took a 1-0 lead before digging themselves a deep hole by conceding four straight goals. Mental mistakes such as penalties - Carolina's first two goals came on the man advantage - and giveaways (1) show Edmonton is struggling to align performances like these with some of their past offensive explosions.

"We know what we need to do to win. It's that extra step we're not taking to work harder for pucks," defenseman Tom Gilbert told the Edmonton Journal. "We're thinking every game is going to be easy. When you win 9-2 (as they did against the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 19) you think every game is going to be that way and it's not."

Who's Hot: Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has three goals in four games, and has at least a point in nine of his last 10. … Galiardi has three of his four goals this season in his past five games.

Injury Report: Both teams are dealing with suspensions. Colorado's Kevin Porter will miss four games for kneeing Vancouver's David Booth, while Oilers defenseman Andy Sutton is suspended indefinitely for a hit on Carolina's Alexei Ponikarovsky - his second major offense of the season. … Avalanche defenseman Ryan Wilson (head) and center Paul Stastny (upper body) missed Thursday's game against Calgary. … Though he practiced in a no-contact jersey Thursday, Edmonton's Taylor Hall is on injured reserve with a left shoulder injury. Defensemen Corey Porter (sprained ankle) and Cam Barker (left ankle surgery) are also out.

Stat Pack: As they finish up their latest road trip, the Avs will try to return to the form that saw them win six in a row away from home to start the season. Since that torrid start, the Avs are 0-6-1 away from the Pepsi Center.

Puck Drop: "It's had an effect on our power play, first and foremost. It's had an effect on our energy look, our attack … and puck protection, puck retrieval, those types of things in the offensive zone." - Oilers coach Tom Renney on the effect of Hall's injury on the system.

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