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Old 03-13-2008, 06:42 PM   #308
Bronx33
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Default Oilers-Avalanche Mar 13, 2008, 9:30 PM EDT



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Rookie Andrew Cogliano has led the Edmonton Oilers to three straight overtime victories, reviving his team's playoff chances.

Cogliano aims to keep the Oilers' momentum going as they open a three-game road trip against the surging Colorado Avalanche on Thursday.

Edmonton (34-31-5) suffered a three-game skid from Feb. 16-22 that nearly dashed the team's goal of making its ninth playoff appearance in 11 seasons after missing out in 2006-07. The Oilers have since won seven of their last eight to move within seven points of the eighth and final playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Cogliano has been key to that success, totaling seven goals and three assists in his last eight appearances, but his best performances seem to occur after regulation. The 20-year-old center set an NHL record with his third consecutive overtime goal, scoring with 4.9 seconds left in a 4-3 victory over St. Louis on Tuesday.

"Things like this don't happen often," said Cogliano, who leads all rookies with five game-winning tallies. "I think I've just been really lucky to have those opportunities go in for me. But yeah, three in a row, that feels pretty good."

Cogliano is among the rookie leaders with 16 goals, and fifth on the Oilers with 38 points - two fewer than fellow first-year star Sam Gagner, who contributed a goal and two assists in Tuesday's victory.

"That was a wild game," Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. "Kind of hard on the heart for this time of year. You take a 3-0 lead and you think maybe it is going to be an easy night for us.

"We have a young team and you got seduced into thinking it's going to be point night. Hopefully, we have learned a lesson here."

Mathieu Garon finished with 28 saves to improve to 7-1-0 with a 3.14 goals-against average in his last eight starts. This successful stretch began Feb. 24, when he turned aside 27 shots in a 3-2 win over Colorado (38-27-6).

The Avalanche won the first four games before Cogliano scored the game-winning goal in the third period for Edmonton in that contest.

The Oilers are trying to win back-to-back games against the Avalanche for the first time since a four-game run from March 26-Nov. 13, 2006, but have lost three of their last four at the Pepsi Center.

Colorado will play its next two games at home, where it has won four straight - its best run since a five-game winning streak from Dec. 7-23.

The Avalanche are coming off a 5-2 victory at Atlanta on Tuesday. Andrew Brunette scored two goals, while Joe Sakic and rookie David Jones each had a goal and two assists for Colorado, which has won seven of its last eight games to move into a tie with Calgary for the Northwest Division lead.

Colorado, which hopes to advance to the playoffs for the 12th time in 13 seasons, has won nine division titles since 1994-95.

"We've got to take care of our own business," Avalanche coach Joel Quenneville said. "Whoever does best within this division is going to have the best chance of winning it."

Jose Theodore made 22 saves on Tuesday, and is 7-1-0 with a shutout and a 1.68 GAA in his last eight starts. However, he is just 4-9-0 with a 3.53 GAA in 14 all-time meetings with the Oilers.

In 78 career games against Edmonton, Sakic has 35 goals and 92 points - his third-most against an opponent.

The Avs may need Sakic to continue his steady production against the Oilers, as the team ruled out forwards Ryan Smyth and Peter Forsberg from Thursday's contest. Smyth has been out with a concussion, while Forsberg has a strained groin.

Defenseman Jordan Leopold (head) is also out, while defenseman Adam Foote (hip) is likely to miss the contest. Defenseman Ruslan Salei (eye) will be a game-time decision.
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