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Oilers host Northwest Division rival Avalanche

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The Sports Network
2/17/2012 11:13:37 AM
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(Sports Network) - The Edmonton Oilers have lost three of their last four games, but they've been able to earn points in their last two outings. They'll look for two points tonight when they host the Colorado Avalanche at Rexall Place. Edmonton posted an overtime win Saturday in Ottawa and then lost in OT to visiting Toronto on Wednesday. Tim Connolly scored the game-winning goal just 1:39 into overtime to lift the Maple Leafs to the 4-3 decision.

Ben Eager, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle lit the lamp for the Oilers, who are 15 points out of the West's final postseason berth.

"We had a slow start but came back hard and played a good game," Eager said. "We had our chances to win, but unfortunately couldn't convert."

Nikolai Khabibulin was tagged for all four goals on 26 shots in Wednesday's defeat.

The setback ended Edmonton's four-game home winning streak and it came at the start of a three-game homestand. The Oilers, who will close the residency Sunday against Vancouver, are 15-8-4 as the host this season.

The Oilers hope to get defenseman Theo Peckham back tonight after he sat out the last six games due to a facial injury suffered in practice. Fellow blueliner Corey Potter is also questionable after missing the last two games with a groin injury.

Edmonton forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is still out indefinitely after re- injuring his shoulder earlier this month. The No. 1 overall pick of last summer's draft has 13 goals and 35 points in 40 games as a rookie.

The Avalanche, meanwhile, will try to pick up their first road win in nearly a month when they visit the Oilers for tonight's Northwest Division battle.

The Avalanche are 0-1-1 so far on a four-game road trip and the club has lost four straight away from Denver since recording a 3-1 decision in Los Angeles on Jan. 21. Colorado has also lost seven of its last nine as the guest and is just 12-13-3 as the road team this season.

Colorado will likely need to pick up its road play if it wants to qualify for the postseason. The Avs are currently five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference and 13 of their remaining 24 games are on the road.

The Avalanche were handed a 3-1 setback Wednesday night in Vancouver and Colorado lost more than the game, as goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere left the contest with a groin injury.

Giguere started the game in net, but left late in the first period after giving up a goal on nine shots. Semyon Varlamov let in one goal on 21 shots the rest of the way and will likely start tonight's test. Goaltender Cedrick Desjardins was recalled from Colorado's AHL affiliate in Lake Erie and is expected to serve as Varlamov's backup tonight.

Colorado also played Wednesday without forward Peter Mueller, who was a late scratch due to a torso injury. He could return tonight. Fellow forward T.J. Galiardi left Wednesday's game with an upper-body injury and will miss the next seven-to-ten days.

The Oilers have won three of four meetings against Colorado this season and have taken five of eight overall in the series. Edmonton is also 5-0-2 in the last seven games as the host against the Avalanche.

Ryan Smyth (Photo: Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

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(Photo: Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
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