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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Thursday, December 19th (All times Eastern)
Edmonton Oilers (11-22-3) at Colorado Avalanche (22-10-1), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Edmonton Oilers had one of their best offensive showings of the season the last time they faced the Colorado Avalanche.
With the club struggling to score goals on its road trip, the Oilers hope to tap into the former success on Thursday night when they visit the Avs.
Edmonton has been outscored 10-2 on a four-game road trip that ends tonight, and was shut out twice over that span. Tuesday's 3-0 setback to the Los Angeles Kings was the Oilers' fourth in a row overall and dropped them to 6-12-2 on the road this season.
Ilya Bryzgalov kept Edmonton in the game with 37 saves, but Los Angeles rookie Martin Jones stopped all 24 shots fired his way by the Oilers to hand them their fifth shutout setback of the season.
"I thought we were able to play with them. I thought Bryz was excellent when he needed to be," said Oilers coach Dallas Eakins. "I thought we had the puck in our right skilled players hands to generate chances, and we couldn't score. Usually the problems with our team has been turnovers or some defensive zone lapse, but that just wasn't the case tonight."
Edmonton's playmakers were on point in an 8-2 win over a visiting Colorado club on Dec. 5. Taylor Hall notched a hat trick and added an assist, while Jordan Eberle, Mark Arcobello, David Perron and Ales Hemsky each posted a goal and an assist in the Oilers' fourth straight victory over the Avs.
Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves, helping the Oilers to their eight victory in their past 12 meetings with the Avalanche overall.
Bryzgalov could draw the start over Dubnyk tonight and is 7-4-4 with a 2.31 goals against average in his career versus Colorado.
With the Avalanche having been scheduled to play the following night, Semyon Varlamov allowed all eight goals on 28 shots faced in the loss on Dec. 5. He fell to 4-8-0 with a 3.36 GAA in his career when facing Edmonton.
Varlamov could get a chance to redeem himself tonight after getting the night off in Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars. Jean-Sebastien Giguere got the call in the back end of a home-and-home set, making 25 saves.
Matt Duchene and Erik Johnson each had a goal and an assist for Colorado, which had beaten Dallas at home 6-2 the previous night but lost for the fourth time in six games.
"We're better at it, to be honest with you," Avalanche coach Patrick Roy said on his team's game management. "I think it's unfortunate for us tonight. We had our chance. You saw on the power play, you don't need to make pretty plays all the time. You just put pucks on the net and pick up the rebounds. This is how you score goals in the NHL now. A screen or a point shot with traffic, and then a rebound, that's what we need to do more."
Roy's club should also put the puck on the stick of Duchene more often. He has three goals and four assists in his past four games.
12/19 11:53:33 ET
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