Lurking just outside the Western Conference playoff picture, the
Colorado Avalanche seem to be in a pattern of taking two steps
forward followed by one step back.
They haven’t been able to sustain much consistency against the
Edmonton Oilers, either.
Trying to regroup from a disappointing loss, Colorado looks to
resume its postseason push Saturday against the Oilers as the
Northwest Division rivals conclude their season series at the Pepsi
The Avalanche (35-30-4), who won four straight Feb. 22-27 only
to suffer back-to-back defeats, got off track again Thursday with a
4-2 loss at Nashville. Two nights after defeating Minnesota 7-1 to
complete a home-and-home sweep of the Wild, Colorado had difficulty
getting things going versus the Predators.
Despite taking an early 1-0 lead on recently acquired Jamie
McGinn’s fourth goal in three games, Joe Sacco’s team was outshot
31-17 and failed to create a power-play opportunity for the fifth
time this season. The Avalanche entered this season having only
gone without a power-play chance twice since relocating to Colorado
“In a game like this, that had such meaning, I didn’t think we
had enough guys giving a full 60 minutes, and that’s not
acceptable,” Sacco said. “We got off to a good start, but then they
pushed back and we didn’t have an answer for it. It’s a game we’re
The Avalanche have also experienced mixed results versus the
Oilers (26-35-6), dropping three of five matchups this season. The
teams split two meetings in Colorado before Edmonton took two of
three on its own ice.
The Avalanche have gone 11-11-1 in this series since the start
Edmonton has lost four of five games overall after allowing
three third-period goals in Thursday’s 5-3 defeat to Montreal.
“We were a little undisciplined,” said coach Tom Renney, whose
team was playing its third game in four days. “We could have been a
As tough as it was from a fatigue perspective, you have to play
smart. Had we done that, certainly we had a shot at this game … I
think we could have had it had we played a smarter game.”
Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 26 of 30 shots, falling to 1-11-2
with a 3.75 goals-against average over his last 15 starts.
Khabibulin is 3-4-1 with a 3.49 GAA in his last eight trips to
Given his recent struggles, Khabibulin could give way to Devan
Dubnyk in this one. Dubnyk is 4-2-0 with a 2.18 GAA in his last six
games and 3-1-0 with a 1.75 GAA in four lifetime road games at
Colorado’s Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves Thursday, surrendering
more than two goals for the first time in seven games. He’s gone
5-2-0 with a 1.15 GAA and two shutouts over that stretch.
Varlamov had dropped three of four versus Edmonton before
turning away 26 shots in a 3-1 road win Feb. 17.
Though the Oilers’ 10 road wins rank as the third-fewest in the
league, they’ve certainly held their own as the visiting team of
late. Edmonton has scored a combined 19 goals in taking four of
five in opposing arenas.
The Oilers won’t have to worry about slowing down Colorado
center Matt Duchene, who is expected to miss at least three weeks
with an ankle injury suffered Tuesday. Duchene had tallied 17
points in his last 13 games in this series.