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Sat, Mar 19, 2011 - 10:00 PM ET
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The Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche received some nice contributions from rookies in their last games, but the result was another loss for each of the two worst teams in the NHL.

As the Oilers try to end their losing streak at five Saturday night, the visiting Avalanche look to avoid their worst in more than two decades.

While Colorado (26-36-8) will be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with a regulation loss, Edmonton (23-39-9) is the only one to be officially out of the hunt with a league-worst 55 points.

Edmonton is missing leading scorers Sam Gagner, Taylor Hall and Ales Hemsky for the season due to injuries, so recent call-ups Teemu Hartikainen, Chris Vande Velde, Ryan O'Marra and Alexandre Giroux all saw action in Thursday's 3-1 loss to Phoenix and gave coach Tom Renney reason for optimism.

Vande Velde made his NHL debut as did Hartikainen, who assisted on Magnus Paajarvi's power-play goal.

"The guys played their guts out tonight," Renney said. "You can name any element of our game tonight and we tried. It doesn't always translate into what you want."

The Oilers' last six-game skid was a season-worst 0-5-2 stretch from Dec. 21-Jan. 4.

Edmonton posted 5-1 road victories in both meetings with Colorado since the All-Star break and is 4-0-1 in the last five matchups.

The Oilers will face an Avalanche club that's 2-20-2 since Jan. 18 following Thursday's 5-2 loss at Calgary.

Rookie center Matt Olver, called up from Lake Erie of the AHL last week, recorded his first NHL goal off a pass from All-Star center Matt Duchene.

"After a loss like that, you sure wish (your first goal) was after better circumstances, but that's the way she goes sometimes so we've just got to rebound for Saturday," Olver said.

The Avs, though, could be without Milan Hejduk (shoulder) for a fourth straight game and defenseman Erik Johnson, who suffered a leg injury in the first period Thursday.

Colorado, which won 4-3 in a shootout in its last visit to Rexall Place on Dec. 30, will try to end a 10-game skid that began with a Feb. 23 home loss to Edmonton. That defeat came one day after the Avs had snapped an 0-9-1 slide.

Their last 11-game losing streak was a franchise-worst 14-game slide from Oct. 21-Nov. 19, 1990, when the club was based in Quebec.

Peter Budaj has lost 10 of 11 starts, but he could get the nod from coach Joe Sacco considering Brian Elliott, acquired from Ottawa last month, has yielded nine goals to the Oilers in two matchups since that trade.

Edmonton's Devan Dubnyk is 2-0-1 with a 1.62 goals-against average versus Colorado this season.

The teams conclude their seasons in Denver on April 10.

Tagged: Oilers, Avalanche, Chris VandeVelde

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