DENVER (AP) — The postseason aspirations for the Edmonton Oilers are all but over. So, too, are the chances of the team finishing in last place in the league.
And that to coach Ralph Krueger is a step in the right direction. The Oilers have had the dubious distinction of picking No. 1 in each of the last three drafts, something they hope to avoid.
"We don't want the Edmonton Oilers picking in the top five," Krueger said. "Let's move up in the standings and get out of that bottom group. We still have goals. We want to get points."
Jordan Eberle scored and had two assists, Devan Dubnyk stopped 33 shots and the Oilers snapped a six-game skid with a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night.
"You've got to show your fans you care and show each other you care," Eberle said. "You want to finish well and feel good about yourself as a team."
Taylor Hall, Justin Schultz and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also had goals for the Oilers, who kept their very, very faint playoff hopes afloat. They trail current No. 8 seed Columbus by eight points with five games to play. Basically, they need to win out and hope everyone chasing that final playoff spot completely collapses.
Not very likely.
But this is more likely: Keep from sinking to the bottom of the Western Conference standings and joining the last-place Avalanche. They're now six points clear of Colorado and even further ahead of Florida, which has the worst mark in the NHL.
"It's extremely important to just go out there in these next five games and play well and play the way we need to play," Dubnyk said. "Stop with the habits that we get into that put us on the wrong side of the scoreboard."
Eberle set up two goals with backhanded assists and later added his 13th goal of the season on a backhander that he lifted over goaltender Semyon Varlamov.
Varlamov was rusty in his return to goal after sitting out since early April with a hip ailment. He stopped 20 shots, which was well down from the career-high 50 saves he made at Edmonton on Feb. 16.
"He was OK, just OK," coach Joe Sacco said of his goaltender. "He's capable of playing better."
The Oilers broke open a tight game in the second period with goals from Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. Colorado couldn't manage much of an offensive charge in the final period. The Avs went on the power play with 3:07 remaining and pulled Varlamov for an extra skater, but couldn't get anything past Dubnyk. Edmonton finished the season series against Colorado with a 4-1 record.
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