TALE OF THE TAPE:
Game: Edmonton Oilers (14-17-2) at Colorado Avalanche (16-16-1)
Location: Rexall Place, Edmonton, Alberta
Time: 8:00 PM MT
Where to find it: TV: CBC – Radio: 630 CHED
Edmonton Oilers Preview:
That’s all that separate the Oilers and the Avs in the NHL’s standings. The pacific division is tighter than ever, and there is little room for error if the Oilers want to stay in this fight. I feel there is a legitimate chance for the Oilers to make a strong push for the playoffs and right now the team needs every point it can get.
After suffering an injury on November 30th in Toronto, Benoit Pouliot returns to action alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle. In the second half of last season, the three of them put up a combined 100 points. The trio needs to regain that sort of production they had put up last season in order for the Oilers to continue to win games.
“I feel good, I feel better than I did before,” Pouliot said of his much-anticipated return. “A few bumps along the road here and there, but I feel good today. Yesterday was a full team practice, I felt good in there, and then this morning I felt great.”
The Colorado Avalanche come into tonight’s game on a four game win streak after surrendering only four goals in wins against the Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks and the New York Islanders. Semyon Varlamov has been instrumental in these last four wins posting a combined .973 sv%.
After suffering two losses in a row, the Oilers need to come out strong against a hot Colorado Avalanche team. Tonight is the Oilers second last game before the Christmas Break with their final game being against the Jets on Monday night. It would be really nice to get points in these last two games as when the Oilers return from their break they play four games in six nights.
“It’s very big,” veteran forward Matt Hendricks said. “We were playing very well before this road trip, and we’ve got to get back on our horses here. We’re still in an OK situation, but tonight is a must-win for us.”
Colorado has won four straight games, sweeping a three-game road trip before opening a four-game homestand Thursday with a 2-1 win against the New York Islanders. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov has won his past five starts, allowing five goals on 162 shots (.969 save percentage) “We’re playing solid defensively,” he said after the win against the Islanders. “Everything comes from defense. If we’re playing solid defense, we’re going to get success.” Defenseman Francois Beauchemin, who scored twice in the win against the Islanders, has three goals and three assists in his past six games. The Avalanche have won nine of their past 13 games to get back to the .500 mark and play 10 of their next 12 games at home.
Line Combos and Starting Goalies c/o Left Wing Lock:
Oilers (Anders Nilsson):
Taylor Hall – Leon Draisaitl – Teddy Purcell
Benoit Pouliot – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Matt Hendricks – Mark Letestu – Lauri Korpikoski
Luke Gazdic – Anton Lander – Iiro Pakarinen
Darnell Nurse – Andrej Sekera
Nikita Nikitin – Justin Schultz
Brandon Davidson – Eric Gryba
Avalanche (Semyon Varlamov):
Gabriel Landeskog – Nathan Mackinnon – Matt Duchene
Alex Tanguay – John Mitchell – Jarome Iginla
Andreas Martinsen – Carl Soderberg – Blake Comeau
Cody McLeod – Mikhail Grigorenko – Jack Skille
Francois Beauchemin – Erik Johnson
Nick Holden – Tyson Barrie
Zach Redmond – Nate Guenin
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