The Edmonton Oilers try to regroup without one of their top scorers Thursday when their seven-game homestand continues against the Colorado Avalanche in a matchup between the first and last-place teams in the Northwest Division.
The Oilers (13-8-2) and Avalanche (11-11-2) are separated by just four points in the tightly packed Northwest, and both teams are trying to bounce back from losses.
Edmonton lost for the first time on its homestand Tuesday with a 3-2 overtime defeat to Anaheim.
But the loss of the game became secondary to losing star right wing Ales Hemsky, who injured his right shoulder in the first period. Hemsky, who has a team-high 14 assists and is third on the club with 18 points, is sidelined indefinitely.
“He went in to retrieve a dump on the power play and he took a good hit and it sandwiched his shoulders together,” said Oilers coach Craig MacTavish. “We’ll know more later but that’s a tough guy to miss from your lineup.”
Hemsky has eight assists in 19 lifetime games against the Avalanche, including two in Edmonton’s 4-3 win Oct. 14 at Colorado.
“It’s always frustrating to get injured,” Hemsky said. “Hopefully I will be back as soon as possible.”
The Oilers are 4-0-1 on their homestand and have at least one point from each of their last six games. They are 10-2-1 overall at Rexall Place and have the second-most home victories in the league, trailing only the Ducks (12).
Colorado saw its penalty-killing unit rendered ineffective in Tuesday’s 5-2 loss at Calgary. The Avalanche, who had allowed just three power-play goals in 20 opportunities over the previous five games, were tagged for three markers in five chances and allowed a fourth goal one second after a penalty expired.
“We didn’t come out as hard as we wanted to and we took some penalties that came back to haunt us,” Avalanche center Paul Stastny said. “They basically had four power play goals and it’s tough to come back when you’re down 4-0.”
Of greater concern to Stastny and the Avalanche was losing another game to a division rival.
“When you’re playing within your division, that’s four points that we just lost,” Stastny said. “Now we have to forget about that and look forward to Edmonton.”
Two of Edmonton’s three road wins have come at Colorado’s expense, including a 2-1 triumph Nov. 13 in which Ryan Smyth scored a power-play goal and short-handed goal in a 1:53 span of the second period. Dwayne Roloson had 33 saves for the Oilers in that game, while Avalanche netminder Jose Theodore stopped 30 shots in the defeat.