Oilers in Town as Avalanche try to win 3 straight


The Avalanche sit 12th in West entering tonight’s game, but they’re not out of the playoffs yet.  Sunday’s win has them on a two game winning streak, defeating the #1 and #7 teams in the west.  The victory came with .3 seconds left in OT, as Matt Duchene sliced a loose puck past San Jose goaltender Antti Niemi.  The goal came right after Avalanche coach Joe Sacco used his sole timeout before a faceoff in the offensive zone.

Before the Sharks however, the Avalanche played the Blackhawks in home and home games.  In Chicago, the Avs held the lead over the Blackhawks until Chicago scored two unanswered goals, one coming as late as the final minute of the third period.   That was closest the Hawks were to losing their streak since  the Red Wings had their chance on March 3rd, a game that ended in a shootout.  Friday’s game at home gave the Avs a second chance to end the infamous Blackhawk streak at the Pepsi Center, a stadium in which the Avalanche have an astounding 8-2-1 record.  And they did.

There was no dancing around the score on Friday.  Colorado had a five goal lead on Chicago at one point, with Duchene allotting a grand total of 4 points.  Colorado has clearly demonstrated that they have the system to defeat the Blackhawks.  With Chicago a near lock for the Presidents Trophy, and Colorado sitting four points outside the 8th and  final playoff slot, this back to back series may have set the stage for an early playoff upset.

Matt Duchene has been on fire, leading the Avalanche by example with seven points in the last three games, including one game winning goal.  There is no doubt that the Avalanche would not be in contention for the postseason if not for Duchene, who has played on par with draft mate John Tavares.  In 2009 they went 3rd and 1st overall, respectively.  The Avalanche however, are acclaimed for their strong offensive depth.  If they are serious about competing in the playoffs, top players like Stastny, O’Reilly,   and Landeskog need to step up in tight games like on Sunday.  Hopefully we’ll see that tonight.

At 7 PM, the Avs faceoff against their Canadian doppelganger the Edmonton Oilers.  Both teams sharing remarkable prospect pools and youthful talent, their main discrepancies is the Oilers insidious defense.  For the Avalanche, the key of the game will be using their speed and skill to capitalize on odd man rushes and Power Plays, while maintaining solid defense.   Previously injured Erik Johnson and Ryan Wilson are now healthy again and will join the Avalanche tonight.