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Struggling Oilers aim to end Avalanche home streak

by Brian Hunter /

OILERS (7-8-1) at AVALANCHE (12-3-2)

Last 10: Edmonton 4-6-0; Colorado 7-2-1

Season series: Second of six meetings this season. Craig Anderson stopped all 25 Edmonton shots for his second shutout of the season and Wojtek Wolski scored twice as Colorado won 3-0 at Rexall Place on Oct. 27 as part of a road trip through Western Canada. Milan Hejduk's goal 25 seconds into the game held up as the game-winner.

Big story:
Colorado is the last team in the NHL without a loss on home ice this season (6-0-0), a streak the Avalanche kept intact by edging Chicago in the shootout on Friday. Edmonton has fallen on hard times after getting off to a quick start -- the Oilers have lost six of their last seven, and this is the beginning of a five-game road trip that takes them east to face Ottawa, Buffalo, Atlanta and Columbus.

Team scope:

Oilers: With the exception of a 6-5 shootout victory over Detroit on Oct. 29, Edmonton has scored just five goals during its recent skid, getting shut out three times.

"It's been a rough couple games here the last little while. It'll be nice to get back on the road and just get back to a simple game and making sure we do the little things well and do them right," forward Fernando Pisani said.

"At home you try to get too fancy and too cute. That's not necessarily the best way to play. You have to get ugly goals and have to get the dirty goals and throw pucks at the net and hope for the best."

Avalanche: Following a two-game losing streak to end a four-game road trip, Colorado has returned home to the Pepsi Center and re-established its momentum with wins over Phoenix and Chicago. The Avalanche barely pulled out the win against the Blackhawks, as Marek Svatos scored in the third round of the shootout in a do-or-die spot and Chris Stewart converted in the eighth round for the deciding goal.

"I had him in Lake Erie (of the AHL) and he had a knack for scoring in the shootout," coach Joe Sacco said of Stewart, Colorado's first-round pick in the 2006 Entry Draft. "I had a good feeling that when he was going, he was going to score."

Who's hot: Ryan O'Reilly had been quiet for a stretch but the rookie forward for the Avalanche erupted with a pair of goals against the 'Hawks and has three points in his last two games. Teammate David Jones also has two goals and three points in two games.

Injury report: Edmonton's list of the ailing includes forwards Shawn Horcoff (shoulder) and J.F. Jacques (back spasms) and defensemen Ladislav Smid (flu) and Sheldon Souray (concussion). Forward Ales Hemsky is considered day-to-day with a shoulder injury.

Defenseman John-Michael Liles left Colorado's game with Chicago due to a shoulder injury and won't play Sunday. Fellow blueliners Tom Preissing (knee) and Ruslan Salei (back) also remain out, as does forward Darcy Tucker (concussion).

Stat pack: Colorado will be shooting for a franchise record for home wins to start a season. The Quebec Nordiques started 6-0-0 in 1994-95, their final season in Canada before moving to Denver.

Puck drop: Backup goalie Peter Budaj finally got his first start against Phoenix on Wednesday and turned in a solid performance, stopping 29 of 30 shots, but it will be Anderson in net again to face Edmonton. He's allowed three goals in each of his last three starts (1-2-0), but still has the fifth-best goals-against average in the League at 2.15.

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