Oilers continue playoff push, visit Avalanche

By Nicole Dibenedetto
Stats Writer

Edmonton (33-27-9) at Colorado (31-38-2) 9 p.m. EDT

DENVER (AP) — The Edmonton Oilers have posted at least one
point for five games in a row. They hope to claim two in a
second consecutive contest for the first time in a month when
they visit the last-place Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

The Oilers (33-27-9), in the thick of a crowded bottom half of
the Western Conference playoff chase, are 2-0-3 in their last
five games after going 2-4-2 in the previous eight. They haven’t
won back-to-back games since a three-game run from Feb. 11-16.

They kept their current point streak intact Tuesday, beating St.
Louis 2-1 in a shootout. The victory also snapped a three-game
losing streak in which each contest was decided in overtime,
including Saturday’s 3-2 loss to the Avalanche (31-38-2).

Seven of Edmonton’s last nine games have been decided by one

“Those situations are crucial right now at this point of the
season,” Oilers right wing Ales Kotalik said after netting the
lone shootout goal Tuesday. “To be able to contribute this way
to help the guys get a huge two points felt pretty good. I’m
thrilled and happy for all the guys on this team to get a win
after putting so much effort into this game.”

Kotalik, acquired from Buffalo at the March 4 trade deadline, is
third in NHL history with 19 shootout goals and that total
includes 10 game-winners to tie Altanta’s Slava Kozlov for the
league record. This season, Kotalik has had 12 attempts in
shootouts and converted a career-high seven, two behind
Avalanche left wing Wojtek Wolski for the league lead.

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Kotalik, though, hasn’t recorded a point in six games with the
Oilers after totaling 13 goals and 19 assists in 56 contests
with Buffalo this season. He has one goal in five career games
against Colorado but found the net on his only career shootout
attempt against Avs goaltender Peter Budaj in a 2-1 Sabres win
on Oct. 25.

Edmonton, which plays five of its next six on the road, is 2-1-2
against Colorado this season, including a split of two games at
the Pepsi Center. The Oilers took the last meeting there, 3-2 on
Jan. 16 to snap a five-game road losing streak in the series.

The Avalanche, tied with Phoenix at the bottom of the West, are
looking to avoid a third consecutive loss after falling 3-2 in a
shootout at Minnesota on Tuesday night and 4-2 at Vancouver on

Colorado might use Budaj in net for a second consecutive game
after he made 27 saves Tuesday. He’s been much more effective
than Andrew Raycroft of late, going 3-1-1 with a 1.55
goals-against average in his last five games after losing his
five previous starts – getting pulled in one – while posting a
4.07 GAA. Raycroft is 0-5-0 with a 2.86 GAA in his last six

Budaj is 5-1-1 with a 1.96 GAA in seven home meetings with

Another factor on his side is how poorly the Oilers’ special
teams have been recently. Edmonton is 3-for-41 on the power play
in its last 12 games and its opponents are 11-for-27 over the
last eight.