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Top draft picks face off as Avalanche host Oilers

by Deborah Francisco
OILERS (5-2-2) at AVALANCHE (6-3-0)


Season Series:
This is the first meeting of a six-game series between the Avalanche and Oilers this season. Last season they split their matchups, but Colorado twice won in the shootout and once in overtime.

Big Story:
The top-two picks from the 2011 Draft, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins (No. 1) and Gabriel Landeskog (No. 2), are slated to go head to head for the first time on Friday night in Denver. So far this season, Nugent-Hopkins has 9 points (5G-4A) in as many games with the Oilers, including his first career hat trick on Oct. 15, while Landeskog has notched 6 points (4G-2A) in nine games.

Team Scope:

The Oilers have won three straight games including a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night -- which was the Capitals' first loss of the season. Khabibulin stopped 34 shots to lead the Oilers past the Capitals and youngsters Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle each notched a goal in the contest.

"It was a good test," Khabibulin said. "We really wanted to see where we're at. So it feels good to beat one of the best teams in the League."

The Oilers were 2-for-9 on the power play, and although they took six penalties they denied the Capitals on all six of their man advantages.

"It was awesome," Nugent-Hopkins said. "They were undefeated coming into tonight, so to get a win against a good team tonight was great. We really battled hard tonight. Khabibulin, some of the saves he made for us were ridiculous."

After opening the season with a perfect 5-0 road trip the Avalanche have lost two of their last three games, including a 4-2 to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night. That loss snapped a six-game road-win streak for the Avalanche.

"Our goaltender gave us a good chance in the first period. We were very fortunate to be 1-1," coach Joe Sacco said. "What we saw in the third period is more of a reflection on how we play."

Things picked up for Colorado in the third as the Avs rifled 20 shots on goal -- something they will surely want to carry over into Friday's play against another Northwest Division rival. However, Colorado is winless at the Pepsi Center so far this season.

Who's Hot: Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle lead the Oilers in points to far this season with 9 each. … Paul Stastny has earned 6 points (2G-4A) in his last five games.

Injury Report: Colorado is without forward Brandon Yip (arm) and forward Peter Mueller, who has missed the last six games. … For the Oilers, defenseman Ryan Whitney (sprained right knee), and winger Ales Hemsky (shoulder sprain) are sidelined.

Stat Pack: Colorado leads the League in power-play percentage with a 30.8 success rate, while Edmonton is third in penalty-kill percentage at 92.3 percent.

Puck Drop:
Nugent-Hopkins and Landeskog will each be playing their 10th game of the season, meaning their entry-level contracts will go into effect.

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