Oilers-Avalanche Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 01, 2013
The Colorado Avalanche ended their longest trip of the season with their best offensive performance so far. They'll try to keep it going - and remain undefeated at home - on Saturday in their second matchup against the Edmonton Oilers in six days. Held to one total goal - a 4-1 loss to Edmonton (4-2-1) on Monday - while losing the first three games of their trip, Colorado (3-4-0) defeated Calgary 6-3 on Thursday. Newcomers P.A. Parenteau and John Mitchell had two goals and an assist apiece, while Avs center Paul Stastny scored his first two goals of the season. "I think Paul can hopefully relax a little bit now and just play his game,'' coach Joe Sacco said. "It was just a matter of time before Paul got going. It's big for our team. "We need Paul going offensively for our team.'' The Avs, who open a season high-tying four-game homestand, also need their penalty kill to improve after failing in eight of 20 short-handed chances on their trip. Edmonton's Ales Hemsky, Jordan Eberle, captain Shawn Horcoff and rookie Nail Yakupov (empty net) all notched power-play goals on Monday. Colorado, though, has killed all 12 penalties in its two games in Denver. The Oilers will close out their three-game trip in the Mile High City after Wednesday's 2-1 overtime victory over Phoenix and losing 3-2 in a shootout to undefeated San Jose the next night. Edmonton, though, was pleased with the point and the comeback as Sam Gagner and Taylor Hall, who both recorded two assists on Monday, scored to rally the club from two down in the second period. "I think we have to gain confidence from the way we battled back,'' Gagner said. "It's obviously a tough one to lose. Coming off a back-to-back against a team like San Jose, who's playing so well, we have to learn from it and continue to develop.'' Devan Dubnyk is developing into a top-line goaltender, starting each of Edmonton's games and helping the club kill six of seven penalties on the trip, which started with the team's first back-to-back set this season. "It begins with your goaltender," rookie coach Ralph Krueger said. "What does he do with the deficit and how does he react? Does he give your team a chance in the game? That's a sign of a top goalie in the National Hockey League." The Oilers won't play on consecutive days again until Feb. 9-10, so Dubnyk should be in net Saturday. He's 5-2-1 with a 1.99 goals-against average in eight starts versus Colorado after Monday's season-best 37-save performance. Semyon Varlamov stopped 23 shots for the Avs in that loss, but it's uncertain if Sacco will give backup Jean-Sebastien Giguere another look after he made 25 saves on Thursday in his first start of the season. Hall, the team leader with seven assists and nine points, has opened the season on a career-best seven-game point streak. He has nine points in nine career games versus Colorado. The Avs have won two straight and three of four at home in this Northwest Division matchup.
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