EDMONTON – Considering how tough getting wins against Northwest Division rivals has been this season, the Colorado Avalanche had a relatively easy night against the Edmonton Oilers.
Gabriel Landeskog and Mark Olver each had a goal and an assist Friday as the Avalanche snapped a two-game winless skid with a 3-1 victory over the Oilers on Friday night.
Erik Johnson also scored and Ryan O’Reilly had three assists for the Avalanche (29-26-4), who have gone 3-1-2 in their last six outings.
It was just Colorado’s third win in 17 games this season against other Northwest Division teams.
“All these games are must win for us now and this was a huge one for us,” O’Reilly said. “We’ve been terrible in our divisional games this year. To get one like this, hopefully we can take away some things from this game and what we did to win and learn from them and do them again in our next game.”
The win also gave the Avs a 13-13-3 road record.
“It’s big to break even at .500 on the road,” Johnson said. “It would be nice to go 2-1 on this trip as we fight for that last playoff spot. It was a huge game for us tonight to help us in our playoff chase.”
Ryan Jones responded for the Oilers (22-29-6), who have lost the first two games of their three-game home stand.
“I would rather not score and win the hockey game,” Jones said.
Oilers associate coach Ralph Krueger said his team just didn’t seem to have the jump they needed to.
“We’ve had the odd night like this,” he said. “It’s about finding ways to win the difficult games. We knew this was going to be a tough one as they are fighting for their lives. They played very well defensively and didn’t give us much deep down in front of the net. They really cleaned that up.
“We can’t be happy with the way the goals against us developed. We just didn’t create offence. The power play was very disappointing.”
It was a largely uneventful first period up until Colorado struck with 47 seconds left. The Oilers started scrambling after a poor clearing attempt by goalie Devan Dubnyk, leading to a bomb of a point shot from Johnson and a 1-0 Colorado lead.
The Avalanche went up by two goals four minutes into the second period as O’Reilly made a nice feed through the goalmouth to Olver, who blasted a one-timer for his first goal of the season. Olver was playing in his first game for Colorado this year after a Feb. 16 recall from Lake Erie of the AHL.
Colorado kept it coming midway through the second on the power play as Paul Stastny fed it from behind the net to Landeskog in front of the net for his 14th of the season and a 3-0 lead.
Edmonton had a chance to get back into the game soon afterwards as Ryan O’Byrne took a pair of penalties, but was unable to convert on the four-minute man advantage.
The Oilers did get on the board with five minute to play in the second as Jones coralled the rebound of a Ben Eager shot and slid a backhand shot past Avs goalie Semyon Varlamov.
That was as close as they would get, however as neither team had many quality chances in an uninspired third.
Both teams are back on the ice on Sunday as the Avalanche finish off a four-game trip in Winnipeg and the Oilers play host to Vancouver.
Oilers head coach Tom Renney missed the game and will also miss Sunday as he continues to battle post-concussion symptoms in after being hit in the head with a puck during a practice on Feb. 6.
Notes: The Oilers won three of the previous four meetings against Colorado this season. Edmonton also came into the game with a 5-0-2 in the last seven games as the host against the Avalanche.…Colorado G Jean-Sebastien Giguere is sidelined on a day-to-day basis so Varlamov got the start. The Avs recalled Cedrick Desjardins from Lake Erie of the AHL to serve as his backup.…The Avalanche were missing C TJ Galiardi (torso), C Peter Mueller (torso) and F Matt Duchene (left knee). … Edmonton rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins sat with a shoulder injury.