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Slumping Avs aim to end losing skid against rival Oilers

Dec 17, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Colorado Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar looks on in the second period against the Nashville Predators at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

The last time the Colorado Avalanche were in Edmonton, they were celebrating a sweep of the Oilers in the Western Conference finals and a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Colorado’s current fortunes are far from that June 6, 2022, night in Canada. The reigning champions are mired in a five-game skid, including four losses in regulation, and are searching for answers. The Avalanche will try to end the losing streak when they play at Edmonton on Saturday night.

Injuries have hampered the rhythm of Colorado’s lineup but the 4-2 loss at Vancouver on Thursday night was a mixture of poor play and bad luck. The Avalanche led 2-0 when a clear attempt hit a referee to keep the puck in the Colorado end, and the Canucks scored seconds later.

Defensive breakdowns led to two more goals in 34 seconds and the Avalanche had no answer. They were outshot 42-28 and went 1-for-5 on the power play. After taking the 2-0 lead early in the second period, Colorado was outshot 11-0.

“Regardless of the past five games, winning or losing, you have to go out and play your best hockey, otherwise you can’t expect to win and we’re not holding up our end of the bargain on that right now,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said after the loss.

Alexandar Georgiev has been in net for all five games and has allowed 20 goals during the losing streak. He was pulled from a loss to Toronto on Dec. 31 after allowing five goals on 24 shots in 35 minutes of ice time.

Georgiev and his teammates won’t get any sympathy from the Oilers, who are coming off a 4-2 win against the New York Islanders on Thursday night. Connor McDavid is having another Hart Trophy-worthy season with 33 goals and 42 assists, and Leon Draisaitl isn’t far off with 22 goals and 38 assists.

Both players had two points in the win over New York and celebrated personal milestones. McDavid picked up his 500th career assist and Draisaitl skated in his 400th NHL game.

“It’s a credit to them, their longevity, and their talent,” coach Jay Woodcroft said about his superstars. “What they don’t get credit enough for is the work that goes into achieving those numbers. But what I know about them is they’re great teammates and they want to win.”

That’s what made losing in the playoffs to Colorado last spring tough to take. The Avalanche won 8-6 in Game 1 and finished off the series with a 6-5 overtime win on a goal by Artturi Lehkonen.

McDavid led the NHL in playoff points with 33.

This season is the focus now, and for Edmonton it was important to play well at home. The Oilers had lost five straight at home before beating the Islanders, and in only one of those losses did they pick up a point.

After Saturday night, Edmonton hits the road for four games while Colorado heads home for a game against Florida.

–Field Level Media