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The Edmonton Oilers have gained at least one point in five straight games. They hope to claim two in a second consecutive contest for the first time in a month when they visit the last-place Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.
The Oilers (33-27-9), in the thick of a crowded bottom half of the Western Conference playoff chase, are 2-0-3 in their last five games after going 2-4-2 in the previous eight. They haven't won back-to-back games since a three-game run from Feb. 11-16.
They kept their current point streak intact Tuesday, beating St. Louis 2-1 in a shootout. The victory also snapped a three-game losing streak in which each contest was decided in overtime, including Saturday's 3-2 loss to the Avalanche (31-38-2).
Seven of Edmonton's last nine games have been decided by one goal.
"Those situations are crucial right now at this point of the season," Oilers right wing Ales Kotalik said after netting the lone shootout goal Tuesday. "To be able to contribute this way to help the guys get a huge two points felt pretty good. I'm thrilled and happy for all the guys on this team to get a win after putting so much effort into this game."
Kotalik, acquired from Buffalo at the March 4 trade deadline, is third in NHL history with 19 shootout goals, a total that includes 10 game-winners to tie Altanta's Slava Kozlov for the league record. This season, Kotalik has had 12 attempts in shootouts and converted a career-high seven, two behind Avalanche left wing Wojtek Wolski for the league lead.
Kotalik, though, hasn't recorded a point in six games with the Oilers after totaling 13 goals and 19 assists in 56 contests with Buffalo this season. He has one goal in five career games against Colorado but found the net on his only career shootout attempt against Avs goaltender Peter Budaj in a 2-1 Sabres win on Oct. 25.
Edmonton, which plays five of its next six on the road, is 2-1-2 against Colorado this season, including a split of two games at the Pepsi Center. The Oilers took the last meeting there, 3-2 on Jan. 16 to snap a five-game road losing streak in the series.
The Avalanche, tied with Phoenix at the bottom of the West, is looking to avoid a third consecutive loss. The Avs lost 3-2 in a shootout at Minnesota on Tuesday night and 4-2 at Vancouver on Sunday.
Colorado will use Budaj in net again after he made 27 saves Tuesday. He's been much more effective of late, going 3-1-1 with a 1.55 goals-against average in his last five games after losing his five previous starts - getting pulled in one - while posting a 4.07 GAA.
Budaj is 5-1-1 with a 1.96 GAA in seven home meetings with Edmonton.
Another factor on his side is how poorly the Oilers' special teams have been recently. Edmonton is 3-for-41 on the power play in its last 12 games and its opponents are 11-for-27 over the last eight.