Oilers deflated in Denver

DEREK VAN DIEST, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

DENVER -- So often, the Edmonton Oilers rolled into Colorado late, had trouble finding their skating legs and were beaten like they stole something.

Last night, all the elements were in place for the scenario to play out as it had so often in the past.

The Oilers played the previous night, got into town as the night owls were stumbling home and went up against a team waiting to ambush them.

PUT UP A FIGHT

Still, the Oilers put up a fight in last night's 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

In fact, the first period was one of Edmonton's best of the young season.

Unfortunately for the Oilers, the same could be said of Avalanche goaltender Peter Budaj, who kept the visitors at bay with nine saves in the opening 20 minutes.

The best save, however, was made by Oilers goaltender Mathieu Garon, who was able to slide across to get a pad on Milan Hejduk's shot from in close on a feed from Ryan Smyth.

Garon, making his fourth start this season, was sharp early, but mortal in the second as the Avalanche took control of the contest.

Up until then, it was the Oilers who were in charge, buzzing around the Avalanche goaltender looking for that elusive opening goal. But they were unable to get the puck in a sea of legs off scrambles in front or hit the net with open shots.

Edmonton's prospects looked bright when Shawn Horcoff opening the scoring with a power-play marker in the second.

It was Horcoff's third of the season and first point in three games. He converted a gift offered up by Avalanche defenceman Adam Foote who, in an attempt to clear the puck, put it right on the stick of the Oilers centre.

The play originated with a point shot from Sheldon Souray that was tipped in front by Ales Hemsky.

DIFFICULTY

Later in the period the Oilers had opportunities to increase their lead, but had difficulty hitting the target.

The Avalanche were able to tie the game as Ian Laperriere banged a rebound past Garon with less than eight minutes left in the period.

The Oilers goaltender felt the play should have been whistled down at the blue line on an off-ice, but the puck appeared to hit the linesman and stayed in the zone.

Just over five minutes later, Paul Stastny gave the Avalanche the lead, finding the puck in the skates of Oilers defenceman Tom Gilbert and firing it past Garon.

Cody McLeod increased the lead with just over a minute left in the period, taking a pass from Laperriere on a two-on-two rush and slipping it underneath Garon.

In the third, the ageless Joe Sakic notched his ninth point of the season, converting a Darcy Tucker pass from in close, which Garon had no chance on.

Later in the period, Horcoff had to be helped off after running into Ben Guite in the Oilers zone.

Laperriere then did McLeod a big favour on the ensuing face 0off, jumping Zack Stortini before Steve MacIntyre had a chance to drop the gloves.

The Oilers enforcer lined up beside McLeod on the draw and started jawing with the Avalanche grinder. Seeing this, Laperriere decided to go after Stortini in what was more of a wrestling match.

The win extended Colorado's win streak to four games, while the Oilers dropped their second in a row. Edmonton wraps up the three-game road trip tomorrow in Vancouver.

The Oilers play at home on Monday, then head out on a season-long seven-game road trip.


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