Avalanche 3, Oilers 2
EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Colorado Avalanche rested No. 1 goalie Semyon Varlamov on Sunday. The Avalanche's two top scorers -- Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene -- were out with injuries.
However, thanks to a 26-save effort from backup Calvin Pickard, Colorado still had enough in the tank to beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-2. With the win, the Avalanche remains one point ahead of the Minnesota Wild -- who also won Sunday -- for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The loss mathematically eliminated the Oilers from the playoff race.
Oilers goalie Laurent Brossoit made his fifth NHL start and is still searching for his first win. However, Brossoit can't be blamed for the loss after his 22 save performance.
Brossoit stopped the first 14 shots he faced and also got a little help from the iron. Eight minutes into the first, Colorado's Jarome Iginla rang a shot off the post after a nice tic-tac-toe passing play in the Oilers' zone.
At 1:19 of the second, Brossoit's resistance was broken. Carl Soderberg's pass found Avalanche teammate Gabriel Landeskog wide open in front of the Oilers' goal. Landeskog, coming off a three-game suspension, used his long reach to tuck the puck past a sprawling Brossoit and into the net.
The Avalanche (38-31-4) doubled the lead at 11:31, moments after their power play expired. Tyson Barrie's shot from the point grazed Oilers defenseman Mark Fayne and beat Brossoit. The Avalanche had held the puck in the Oilers' zone for almost the full two minutes of the preceding power play. Edmonton penalty killer Iiro Pakarinen broke his stick early in the kill and couldn't get off the ice, allowing Colorado to hem Edmonton in its own zone.
At 2:53 of the third, Oilers fourth-line Matt Hendricks cut the lead in half when he found a loose puck in front of the net and put it past Pickard.
The Oilers (29-39-7) were pushing for a tying goal, but the third-period momentum was broken when Connor McDavid was slapped with a high-sticking minor. On the ensuing power play, the Avalanche made it 3-1 thanks to a tip-in from Blake Comeau at 9:09.
Comeau's goal turned out to be the game-winner, as Edmonton center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored a consolation goal with 7.6 second left in the third.
NOTES: Even though G Cam Talbot made 40 saves Friday in a 2-0 win over Vancouver, Oilers coach Todd McLellan said the decision to start Laurent Brossoit against the Avalanche was part of prearranged schedule. "We want him to play at home against a team that's fighting for their playoff lives," McLellan said. ... The Avalanche were without their top point producers thanks to knee injuries; C Matt Duchene and C Nathan MacKinnon were both ruled out. MacKinnon left during Friday's win over Calgary. ... Colorado D Eric Gelinas, who also left that win over Calgary, was out with an elbow issue. ... Avalanche LW Gabriel Landeskog returned to the lineup after serving a three-game suspension. ... The Oilers scratched C Anton Lander and LW Luke Gazdic, D Nikita Nikitin and RW Adam Cracknell. ... The Avalanche scratched D Zach Redmond.