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Oilers ready for duel with Avalanche

By Anthony Giornalista

Stats Writer

Colorado (30-37-1) at Edmonton (32-27-8), 10:00 p.m. EDT

EDMONTON, Alberta (Ticker) -- An inability to force shootouts

may be costing the Edmonton Oilers some much-needed points. Most

teams, though, are finding tiebreakers with the Colorado

Avalanche to be futile.

Coming off consecutive overtime losses, the Oilers look to avoid

becoming the second straight playoff contender to lose to the

lowly Avalanche as the teams meet at Rexall Place on Saturday


Edmonton (32-27-8), tied with Dallas for seventh place in the

tightly contested Western Conference, has lost four of five

during a stretch in which it needs every point it can get.

Three of Edmonton's last four defeats have been in OT, including

4-3 at home to Atlanta on Thursday night, and coach Craig

MacTavish believes his team is letting points slip away.

"There has been three of those in the last eight days with the

same result," MacTavish said. "We can't even get them to the

shootout. We've got really strong shooters and I would have

liked our chances in the shootout."

The Oilers have been respectable in shootouts, winning four of

eight while going 1-0-4 in OT.

Edmonton has lost three straight matchups that have gotten past

regulation against Colorado (30-37-1), falling short in a

shootout each time. In the teams' only such contest this

season, the Avalanche got goals from Wojtek Wolski and Darcy

Tucker in the tiebreaker to beat the Oilers 3-2 on November 15.

Those situations seem to bring out the best in Wolski and

Colorado, which is 9-1 in shootouts and 2-0 in OT.

Wolski has scored eight goals in nine shootout attempts. One of

those scores helped the Avalanche beat Minnesota 2-1 on Thursday

night. The Wild trail the Oilers by one point in the West.

As good as Colorado has been in OT and shootouts, its 19-37

record in regulation has it in last place in the conference.

Fourteen of those losses were decided by one goal, and the

costly defeats have certainly been on the mind of coach Tony


"There's a lot of things you can go back on in a year," Granato

said. "I'm sure every team is thinking the same thing right


Edmonton would be wise to be aggressive early with hopes of

getting a quick lead.

Oilers left wing Patrick O'Sullivan said a slow start played a

large role in Thursday's game, which Edmonton trailed 2-1 after

the first period.

"The next time we need to be ready to go right from the start,"

said O'Sullivan, who scored his first goal since being acquired

at the trade deadline from Carolina.

The Oilers lost even after activating captain Ethan Moreau from

the injured list earlier in the day. The veteran left wing had

been sidelined since February 28, when he took a stick in the

eye during a 3-2 victory over Minnesota.

Moreau has just five goals in 47 games versus Colorado, which

has been held to two goals or fewer in six of its last seven.

The Avalanche, though, have won two of three after losing their

previous six. They had lost five straight and 10 of 12 on the

road before a 5-1 win over Chicago on Sunday.

The Oilers are 2-1-1 against the Avalanche in 2008-09. The

teams will conclude their season series Thursday night at



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