Avalanche to play Oilers without injured Kamenev

Things can change quickly in the NHL. Three days ago the Colorado Avalanche were flying, having lost once in regulation since Nov. 9 and seemingly unstoppable reality hit with a 7-1 drubbing at Tampa Bay at the end of a four-game road trip.

The rout wasn’t the only thing that hit the Avalanche hard. They lost forward Vladislav Kamenev to a shoulder injury, and the youngster might not play again this season.

“It’s long term, might be for the year,” coach Jared Bednar told HockeyBuzz.com after Monday’s practice. “I don’t know the whole scenario there.”

Colorado (17-8-5) recalled forward A.J. Greer from the Colorado Eagles of the AHL, and he will be available when the Avalanche face the Edmonton Oilers at home on Tuesday night. Kamenev has two goals and three assists in 23 of Colorado’s 30 games.

The Oilers (16-12-2) have turned around their season since coach Ken Hitchcock was hired to take over for the fired Todd McClellan. Edmonton is 7-2-1 under the new boss and is riding a three-game winning streak. The Oilers are coming off a 1-0 win over Calgary on Sunday.

“I think we’re playing a little tighter, and it’s easier to close the games,” Oilers defenseman Adam Larsson told the Edmonton Sun after Sunday’s win. “Even when we were up two goals in the beginning of the season, we would tend to give up chances still, even when we tried to close games out. I don’t feel like we’re doing that now. We’re playing a system where you really need to work hard, and all the guys are buying into it and doing the right things out there. It pays off.”

Like every team that plays the Avalanche, the key is stopping their top line. Entering Monday’s action right-winger Mikko Rantanen (12 goals, 36 assists) and center Nathan MacKinnon (20 goals, 25 assists) were 1-2 in the NHL in scoring. The third member of the line, left-winger Gabriel Landeskog (17 goals, 17 assists) was 16th in scoring.

The Oilers have some talented players, too, starting with Connor McDavid. He won the Hart Trophy as the NHL MVP in 2016-17 at age 20, the third youngest player to earn the honor. The only ones younger were Sidney Crosby (2006-07) and Wayne Gretzky (1979-80), who were both 19.

McDavid (16 goals, 25 assists) was fourth in the league in scoring before Monday’s action.

The top lines for both teams could even out, leaving it up to secondary scorers to decide this one. Losing Kamenev is tough, but Colorado could also be without second-year center Alexander Kerfoot. He didn’t practice Monday due to an undisclosed injury, and if he can’t go Tuesday it will be the first game he has missed this year and just the fourth in his career.

Greer could make up for Kerfoot’s absence if needed. Greer has played well for the Eagles with nine goals and 12 assists in 20 games. He has played one game with Colorado this season and had four assists in 22 games last year.