Avalanche host Oilers in Northwest Division showdown

Edmonton (4-1-0) at Colorado (3-3-0), 9:30 pm EDT

DENVER (Ticker) — If the Colorado Avalanche want to truly test
their offensive prowess, Thursday’s game will prove to be an
appropriate measuring stick.

The high-octane Avalanche host the defensive-minded Edmonton
Oilers in a battle of Northwest Division rivals on Thursday.

Courtesy of netting 24 goals – trailing only the St. Louis Blues
and San Jose Sharks total of 25 for the league’s top honors –
Colorado has cruised to a three-game win streak after dropping
the first three contests of the season.

The Avalanche’s top line, which consists of Ryan Smyth, Milan
Hejduk and Paul Stastny, has combined for 11 goals and 24 points
this season.

Meanwhile, the Oilers used one the league’s most potent
defensive units to win their first four contests before falling
to the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-1, on Wednesday evening. The loss
kept them from starting 5-0-0 for the first time since 1985-86.

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Scoring only 13 goals through five games, Edmonton has
desperately needed its defense to flourish as it recorded four
one-goal victories.

In one of their strongest defensive efforts thus far, Mathieu
Garon made 31 saves as the Oilers recorded a 3-2 victory over
the Avalanche on October 12.

Garon was rested on Wednesday in favor of backup Dwayne Roloson,
who turned aside 27 shots in the loss.

Colorado goaltender Peter Budaj has an opportunity to offset his
early-season struggles. The 26-year-old has posted a pedestrian
4.03 goals-against average and has yet to yield less than three
tallies in any of his four contests. Budaj is 9-3-2 with a 2.58
GAA in 14 career games against the Oilers.