EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers return to Rogers Place for a rematch with the Colorado Avalanche Saturday night. The two squads linked up last Thursday, with the Oilers overcoming two separate two-goal deficits to leave the Centennial State with a 7-4 win and two points.
The Avs dwell in the basement of the National Hockey League with a 20-50-3 record and 43 points. They have a goal differential of minus-101, scoring only 144 goals this season and allowing 245 against.
"We know we're not going to come back and win games in the third the way we did against them," said Oilers forward Zack Kassian, who scored his seventh goal of the season in the third period last game to start the Oilers comeback. "We've got to come out of our zone a little cleaner and buckle down defensively a little more."
FINAL FRAME FINISH
The Oilers rallied with five goals in the third period against Colorado on Thursday. The Avs have been outscored 17-1 in the final 20 minutes their last four games.
Entering the final frame on Thursday, the Oil felt as though they could rally for the win.
"As the game went on, we knew we could come back," said Kassian. "It was just a matter of sticking to our system and getting a little more pucks to the net. We got some puck luck and then we started to flow."
The mandate for Saturday's rematch is coming out the gate with a better start, as opposed to skating out to the early two-goal shortfall they did.
"Hopefully we can jump on them early, get an early lead and not worry about that," Kassian said.
In order for the team to do that, they will have to make a concerted effort on both ends of the ice. Despite being the worst team in the League, the Avalanche are highly skilled and have some threatening offensive players.
"It's a combination of the d-men having better gaps and our forwards being committed to backchecking," said defenceman Matt Benning. "I think it goes hand-in-hand. They cut into the middle a lot on us and they have some skilled forwards up front."
When leading after two periods, Colorado is 11-7-0. Heading into the final frame with the lead, the Oilers are 25-2-1.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan has made some slight changes to his lineup for Saturday's game.
Based on the morning skate, Jujhar Khaira will play. His last game was on March 7 against the New York Islanders.
Laurent Brossoit will make his third start of the season. The Oilers reinforcement came in relief for Cam Talbot twice on the team's road trip, earning the victory on Thursday with six saves on six shots.
"It's always nice to get a start," said Brossoit. "I've been patient and working hard so anytime I can get one, I'm happy."
McLellan wants to give Talbot a rest and believes Brossoit's been playing stellar in his two previous outings.
"LB's played tremendous," said McLellan. "He's ready to play and this is a good break for Cam now because we had yesterday off."
Klefbom - Larsson Sekera - Russell Nurse - Benning
-- Paul Gazzola, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (40-25-9) vs. AVALANCHE (20-50-3)
TV: 8:00 p.m. MDT; Televised on Sportsnet & CBC
This is the third and final meeting between the Oilers and Avalanche this season and the lone game in Edmonton. The last time these teams met in Edmonton was on March 20, 2016, when Colorado topped Edmonton 3-2.
The last time these teams met was Thursday in Colorado in the first game of the home and home game set; the Oilers defeated the Avalanche by a score of 7-4. Jordan Eberle (2G, 1A) and Andrej Sekera (1G, 2A) each posted three-point efforts in the win.
Oilers team scope:
Edmonton is currently in third place in the Pacific Division, two points back of Anaheim and San Jose for first place.
The Oilers are playing in their third of four home-and-home series this season. Edmonton opened the season with 7-4 and 5-3 wins over Calgary. The Oilers then lost both ends of a home-and-home with Arizona on Nov, 25 (2-3 OTL) and Nov. 27 (1-2 L).
Edmonton will close out the regular season with its fourth home-and-home series of 2016-17, with games in Vancouver (Apr. 8) and at Rogers Place (Apr. 9) vs. the Canucks.
To date, 15 of the 24 home-and-home series in the NHL have been swept by one team, including seven teams who started the series on the road.
Home teams have won 14 of the 24 games that completed a home-and-home series.
Defenceman Andrej Sekera, with three points (1G, 2A) against Colorado on Mar. 23, brings his season total to 33 points (8G, 25A). It marks his second consecutive season reaching 30 points with the Oilers and the third 30+ points season of his career.
His career high in points came in 2013-14, when he registered 44 points (11G, 33A) while with the Carolina Hurricanes. The 33 points he has so far in 2016-17 marks his second best season in the NHL.
With two assists against Colorado and a six-game scoring streak (3G, 9A, 12PTS), Connor McDavid has extended his lead in the NHL scoring race, with 87 points (26G, 61A) in 74 games, six points ahead of Sidney Crosby (PIT). McDavid has led the league in scoring at some point in all four months of the 2016-17 season. He has led or co-led the NHL in scoring since Nov. 22, 2016.
Avalanche team scope:
With 43 points, Colorado sits 30th in the NHL standings, 20 points shy of the 29th-place team (Arizona).
Colorado's leading scorer is Nathan MacKinnon, who has 15 goals and 47 points in 73 games. Matt Duchene has 17 goals and 37 points in 68 contests though is also a -35 on the year. Duchene has 29 points in 29 career games against Edmonton.
Defenceman Tyson Barrie has probably put up the most impressive totals on the club all things considered. The 25-year-old defenceman has 34 points in 65 games.
Gabriel Landeskog has had a difficult year. The 2011 second-overall pick has 15 goals and 29 points in 63 games.
Lac La Biche native Rene Bourque has had the Oilers number throughout his career. Bourque has 13 goals and 25 points in 35 career games against Edmonton, including one on Thursday night in Denver. This season, Bourque has played 56 games for the Avalanche and has 12 goals and 17 points.