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Avalanche Vs. Oilers: Desperate Colorado Faces Lowly Edmonton

The Colorado Avalanche are starting a brief Canadian road trip to end the year, facing off against the Edmonton Oilers in a crucial Northwest Division matchup. The Avalanche are coming off one of the most painful losses of the season, a 4-3 overtime defeat against the Detroit Red Wings where they thoroughly outplayed Detroit, but were stopped by goalie Chris Osgood's quest for his 400th career victory.

Because of that loss, the Avalanche find themselves slipping in the Western Conference standings. Now trailing the Vancouver Canucks by six points, Colorado finds themselves in a four-way tie for fifth place within the Conference.  A victory tonight puts them in great shape this weekend when they face Vancouver; a loss may position them out of the playoff picture.

They face a decimated and beaten Edmonton Oilers squad that is the worst in the West. Edmonton ranks in the bottom 20% of the NHL for both goals scored and goals allowed. Their penalty kill is last in the league (Colorado ranks 29th after the Red Wings' 4 for 6 performance on the power play Monday night) and Edmonton has struggled to find any offense. Their depleted ranks just became weaker, as leading scorer and defenseman Ray Whitney will miss at least a month with an ankle injury.

Puck drops at 7:30pm MST.