Connor McDavid, Oilers carry fresh legs into matinee with Avs

While the Colorado Avalanche completed a dominating performance Saturday afternoon in St. Louis, the Edmonton Oilers were resting in Denver.

The fresh legs would appear to give Edmonton an advantage for Sunday’s matinee road game against the Avalanche but the Oilers won’t take it for granted. Colorado is 4-0-0 in afternoon games this season and 17-3-1 since the start of the 2019-20 season.

The Oilers have the extra rest and runaway NHL scoring leader Connor McDavid (his 101 points through Friday were 20 more than anyone else in the league), but Edmonton also is stinging from blowing a lead at home Friday night when the Oilerslost to the New York Rangers in a six-round shootout.

The Oilers haven’t been good after regulation; Friday was their seventh successive loss in overtime (including shootouts), and came after they blew a two-goal lead in the third period. It was their third consecutive defeat and second straight shootout loss.

“Obviously, we would like to get the two points there, liked to have cracked down in the third and not let it get to overtime,” Derek Ryan said. “We’ve done it before, I don’t think it has been a major issue this season, but it’s definitely something down the stretch which is going to be important for us.”

Sunday’s game will be Edmonton’s first in Denver since last year’s Western Conference finals. In the two games there last spring, the Avalanche scored 12 goals. The Oilers didn’t have an answer all series for Colorado’s offense.

The Avalanche are not the same dominant team this season, due in part to injuries, but they’ve played well the past two games. They won 3-2 at Minnesota on Wednesday night despite being outshot 43-19, and Saturday they scored a 4-1 win over a Blues team that is regrouping after trading captain Ryan O’Reilly to Toronto.

Saturday also saw the return of star Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, who missed four games after being hit in the head by Pittsburgh’s Jeff Carter on Feb. 7. Makar had a scary moment against St. Louis when he appeared to get hit in the face but coach Jared Bednar said he was fine.

“Obviously with the injury he’s coming off you’re kind of on edge, but he high-sticked himself in the face and gave him a bloody nose,” Bednar said. “He went off and got looked at real quick and he was back. No real problems coming out of that, which is good.”

Makar told the Denver Gazette he plans to play Sunday.

“Yeah, I hope so. Unless something turns,” he said. “I gotbruised on the nose because my visor hit it.”

Colorado is nearly at full health in its defensive corps with Josh Manson returning Wednesday. Manson had not played since Dec. 1 and got an assist in his return. He didn’t make the trip for Saturday’s game. Bednar said he didn’t want to play Manson on consecutive days after missing so much time.

“We left him at home to rest, especially with Cale coming back,” Bednar said.

–Field Level Media