Avalanche-Oilers Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 27, 2013
The Edmonton Oilers still haven't led in 2012-13. They're hoping to change that Monday night when they open the season series with the Colorado Avalanche, who are still looking for their first road win. Just four games into the season, the Oilers (2-2-0) already have a pair of impressive come-from-behind victories. They rallied from two down in the second period in a 3-2 season-opening shootout win at Vancouver, and No. 1 overall pick Nail Yakupov notched the game-tying goal with 4.7 seconds left in regulation in Thursday's 2-1 overtime victory over Los Angeles. However, rookie coach Ralph Krueger has also watched his club surrender six first-period goals in Tuesday's 6-3 loss to San Jose and a pair of scores in the opening 14:25 of Saturday's 4-3 road loss to Calgary. Edmonton has been outscored 9-2 in the opening 20 minutes. "Getting behind, all the time … you're going to have trouble consistently taking points out of that," Krueger said. "So we need to work on that and rectify that quickly." The Oilers have been outstanding in short-handed situations, killing 20 of 24 penalties, but they need to decrease the number they take. They've committed 14 in the last two contests. Colorado (2-2-0) leads the NHL in penalty minutes per game with 28 and in penalty-minute differential at 11:30. A bigger concern for Avs coach Joe Sacco following Saturday's 4-0 loss at San Jose was the Sharks scoring on each of their first three power-play opportunities. All came after defenseman Ryan O'Byrne picked up 19 minutes of penalties and an additional 10 misconduct for his fight with Brad Stuart, who leveled Avs captain Gabriel Landeskog. "You have a situation where a teammate is defending another teammate which is the game of hockey and in those situations we need to step up and get the job done for our teammate,'' said Sacco, whose team had killed 16 straight penalties heading into the game. ''We just didn't get it done. That was the difference in the game.'' Landeskog returned in the second period on Saturday, so he should be available as the Avs try to avoid their first 0-3-0 road start since dropping their first four in 2007-08. Colorado, outscored 8-2 in two road games, lost in its first two visits to Rexall Place last season before winning 3-1 in its last game there on Feb. 17. Avs backup goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere could make his first start of the season – and first in Edmonton since Dec. 14, 2010, while with Toronto – after stopping all 17 shots in the third period Saturday. It was his first action all season behind Semyon Varlamov, who recorded a 2.49 GAA last season when these Northwest Division clubs split six games. The Oilers know getting off to a better start could help them avoid a third straight loss in this series. "You can't come back against every team, and you have to be able to play with a lead sometimes," said Jordan Eberle, who had five of his team-best 76 points last season versus Colorado. Starts are definitely an issue now."
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