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Avs aim to halt skid versus Oilers

The Colorado Avalanche will try to avoid a three-game losing streak when they visit the struggling Edmonton Oilers tonight at Rexall Place.

The Avalanche had won three in a row before getting slammed by Vancouver, 6-0, in the opener of a three-game road trip. After that blowout loss on Tuesday, Colorado continued the swing with Thursday's 3-2 setback in Calgary. It was the seventh consecutive road loss for the Avs, who are 6-6-1 as the visiting team this season.

Colorado was even with the Flames late in the third period, but Olli Jokinen scored a tiebreaking goal with 4:50 remaining in the third period to lift the Flames to the 3-2 decision at the Saddledome. It was Colorado's fourth loss to Calgary this season and ninth straight setback in the series overall.

Making his first start since November 20, Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 32 shots for the Avalanche, who have gone 0-6-1 in their last seven road games after opening the season a franchise-best 6-0-0 as the visiting club.

"Even though the shot number was lopsided, I thought we were playing a pretty solid road game," said Colorado head coach Joe Sacco.

Semyon Varlamov is expected to get the call in net tonight for the Avalanche. The Russian netminder had won three straight starts before allowing all six goals to Vancouver on Tuesday.

Avalanche forward Kevin Porter served the first portion of a four-game suspension on Thursday. Porter was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for kneeing Vancouver forward David Booth on Tuesday.

Colorado forward Paul Stastny (upper body) is not expected to play tonight, while defenseman Ryan Wilson (head) is questionable.

The Oilers, meanwhile, have lost two straight and five of their last six games and are just 4-9-1 over their last 14 games. Tonight's test marks the end of a six-game homestand for Edmonton, which is 8-5-2 at Rexall Place this year and just 1-3-1 during this residency.

Edmonton lost each of its last two games by identical 5-3 scores, dropping Saturday's test to Calgary before losing Wednesday to Carolina. Jeff Skinner and Jamie McBain each scored a power-play goal to lift the Hurricanes to their first win under new head coach Kirk Muller.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Eric Belanger and Ben Eager provided the offense for Edmonton, while Devan Dubnyk stopped 28 shots in defeat.

"We didn't have enough passion to play," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. "We didn't have an emotional connection to the game. I'm pretty disappointed."

Following tonight's test, the Oilers will head out on a three-game road trip. The swing will begin tomorrow in Calgary before taking Edmonton on Phoenix and San Jose.

Edmonton and Colorado have split a pair of meetings so far this season, but tonight marks the first encounter in Alberta. The Avalanche have taken three of the last four matchups in the series overall and have posted shootout wins in each of their last two trips to Edmonton.

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