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Sunday, October 12th (All times eastern)

Colorado Avalanche (0-1-0) at Edmonton Oilers (0-0-0), 8 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The last team to start the 2008-09 season, the Edmonton Oilers finally get things going tonight, as they begin their 30th season with a home test against the Colorado Avalanche at Rexall Place.

Perhaps the schedule makers thought a few extra days would be beneficial for the Oilers, who saw veterans Shawn Horcoff, Sheldon Souray, captain Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani all miss significant time last year due to injury.

However, with so many vets sidelined, Edmonton's young flyers emerged on to the scene. Sam Gagner (19 years old), Kyle Brodziak (24), Tom Gilbert (25) and Andrew Cogliano (21) all made significant contributions in helping keep the Oilers in the playoff hunt until the final days of the season.

The return of Horcoff, as well as the addition of Erik Cole to a top line that also features Ales Hemsky, should go a long way in making the Oilers playoff contenders while taking pressure off the likes of Cogliano, Gagner, Dustin Penner and Robert Nilsson.

Edmonton's blueline will also look a little different, as Souray returns after playing in just 26 games last year after signing a five-year deal the previous offseason. Also new to the defensive group is Lubomir Visnovsky, who came over from the Kings via trade.

Those two team with Denis Grebeshkov and Gilbert to give the Oilers a solid defensive group.

Mathieu Garon has emerged as the No. 1 netminder, pushing Dwayne Roloson to backup duties. Garon went 26-18-1 with a 2.66 goals against average in 47 games last year, 44 of those starts. He is 4-3-0 with a 3.36 GAA in nine career tests versus the Avalanche.

Edmonton is 15-9-4 in season openers, and is 13-5-3 when opening its season at Rexall Place.

For the Avalanche, they hit the road after falling in defeat, 5-4, at home to Boston on Thursday. David Krejci's even-strength marker late in the third period proved to be the game-winner.

Milan Hejduk recorded a goal and an assist to pace the Avalanche, giving him 600 points for his career. Wojtek Wolski, Cody McLeod and Jordan Leopold all scored in the loss, while John-Michael Liles had two assists.

Joe Sakic celebrated his 20th season with an assist, and Peter Budaj stopped 15-of-20 shots in defeat. Budaj is taking over as Colorado's starter after Jose Theodore left as a free agent this past offseason.

The game marked the beginning of Tony Granato's second tenure as Colorado's head coach, replacing Joel Quenneville. Granato, who was an assistant coach with the club the past three years, held the same position from December 18, 2002 through the 2003-04 season.

Defenseman Adam Foote is slated to skate in his 1,000th career game tonight, and he will become the 40th active player to reach this milestone and 14th defenseman.

Foote will also match Hall of Fame forward Michel Goulet for second place on the all-time games played list in franchise history. Goulet skated in 813 games with the franchise.

Colorado won six of eight against the Oilers a year ago and have won 10 of the last 14 in the series. The Avs have also won five of their last eight trips to Edmonton.

10/12 10:23:27 ET


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