Oilers aim to extend streak over Avalanche
The Edmonton Oilers stopped one epic losing streak on Friday. Now they'll try to extend a point streak of their own against the Colorado Avalanche tonight at the Pepsi Center.
The Oilers paid a visit to the Wild on Friday and skated to a 5-2 victory to snap a 17-game slide at Minnesota. It was their first victory as the guest in that series since Jan. 16, 2007.
Rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a new face in the rivalry, scored twice in the win to give him 10 points in four games. Taylor Hall, Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth all added a goal and an assist, while Jordan Eberle got a helper on two goals as Edmonton won for the third time in four games since a four-game slide.
Nikolai Khabibulin made 30 saves in the win, which featured the return of defenseman Ray Whitney following an 11-game absence because of a sprained knee.
"He was very good, good and square," Oilers head coach Tom Renney said of his goaltender. "I think he saw the effort of his team in front of him. "We had a nice two-goal lead and the last thing he wanted was to be the reason for the loss."
Edmonton wraps a four-game road trip tonight looking to record a point for a ninth straight time against Colorado. The Oilers won the first of six meetings between the Northwest Division residents on Oct. 28 with a 3-1 victory in Denver, moving to 5-0-3 in the past eight in the series.
Smyth, a former Av, had a goal and two assists as the Oilers moved to 3-0-1 in their last four at the Pepsi Center.
Colorado resumes its longest continuous homestand in franchise history tonight, but is only 1-2-0 on the eight-game residency so far and 3-8-0 at home overall this season. The Avalanche take the ice tonight for the first time since a 3-0 loss to the Canucks on Wednesday.
Semyon Varlamov, making his first appearance since yielding six goals at Pittsburgh on November 15, stopped 26 shots for the Avalanche. Jean-Sebastien Giguere had started each of the last three games for Colorado, which is 0-6-0 against its division this year.
"We just need to be desperate. Our performance is embarrassing," said Avs forward Paul Stastny. "We can't score goals. We are being too cute. We need to show more drive, more desperation and just get to the net."
Colorado is 2-8-1 in November and played without defenseman Erik Johnson on Wednesday due to a groin injury. He is doubtful for this contest.