The Colorado Avalanche remain in the mix in the crowded Northwest Division, but if they plan to return to the playoffs, they can’t take any opponent lightly.
The Avalanche look to stay focused and continue their recent dominance of the struggling Edmonton Oilers when they make the third stop on a five-game road trip Sunday at Rexall Place.
Colorado (31-25-6) lost the opener of its road swing in Anaheim on Wednesday, but bounced back Friday with a 3-2 shootout victory at Phoenix. Cody McLeod notched his first career shootout goal in the 12th round - the longest tiebreaker ever for both teams - to help the Avalanche end a season-high, five-game losing streak.
Stastny had been out since Jan. 15 to recover from a groin injury suffered while trying to return from an appendectomy. Despite his 15-game absence, the second-year center still leads the Avalanche with 32 assists and 50 points.
Colorado has renewed hopes of making its 12th postseason appearance in 13 seasons after failing to reach the playoffs in 2006-07. With Friday’s victory, the Avs created an even closer race in the Northwest, where the top four clubs are separated by just five points.
“Every point’s huge,” Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve lost a lot of ground the last week and a half.”
Colorado also holds a nine-point division lead over last-place Edmonton (27-30-5), which owns the second-worst record in the Western Conference.
The Avalanche are 8-1-1 against the Oilers since Nov. 30, 2006, winning all four meetings this season, including a 4-2 home victory on Nov. 28 in the most recent matchup. They seek their longest winning streak over the Oilers since a six-game run from Feb. 21, 1997-Jan. 26, 1998.
The Avs have won five of their last six visits to Edmonton, which is beginning a five-game homestand.
While the Oilers have won their last three contests at Rexall Place, they have dropped three straight games overall, including a 5-2 defeat at Dallas on Friday.
“We had frenetic play in our zone, we took penalties, and we never recovered,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “We played marginally better in the third period but there wasn’t enough composure in our end and they capitalized.”
Garon is 3-2-0 with a 3.31 goals-against average in seven career games against Colorado. Roloson, who has not started since a Feb. 1 loss to Dallas, is 10-14-1 with two ties and a 3.49 GAA in 29 appearances versus the Avalanche.
Oilers rookie Sam Gagner has two goals and nine assists during an eight-game point streak. He has three assists in four games against Colorado.