NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 3rd
(All times eastern)
Edmonton Oilers (24-46-7) at Phoenix Coyotes (47-25-6), 10 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The playoff-bound Phoenix Coyotes will try to avoid their
first three-game slide in nearly three months when they host the lowly
Edmonton Oilers tonight at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes were dealt regulation losses in both tests of a two-game road
trip, losing in Vancouver and Calgary on consecutive nights. Phoenix last lost
three in a row during an 0-2-1 stretch from Jan. 7-12, but the club hasn't
dropped three straight in regulation all season.
Phoenix has 100 points and despite clinching a playoff berth for the first
time since the spring of 2002, the Coyotes have some work to secure home ice
in the opening round of the postseason. Phoenix is four points ahead of
Nashville for the fourth seed in the West.
The Coyotes are not yet out of the race for the Pacific Division title either.
Phoenix is six points behind San Jose for the division lead with four games
left for each club.
The Oilers, meanwhile are dead last in the NHL with just 55 points on the
season. However, despite losing two of three to Phoenix this year, Edmonton
still has eight victories in the last 11 meetings between the clubs. The
Oilers have also won five of their last eight in the desert, although Phoenix
notched a 6-1 win the last time the clubs met at Jobing.com Arena on Feb. 8.
Tonight marks the start of a two-game homestand, a residency that will
complete Phoenix's regular-season home slate. The Coyotes, who have an
excellent 27-10-2 record as the host, will cap the brief homestand Wednesday
against Nashville before making stops in Los Angeles and San Jose to end the
After losing 4-1 in Vancouver on Tuesday, the Coyotes were handed a 2-1
setback the following night in Calgary. Miikka Kiprusoff was very strong in
net with 29 saves, lifting the playoff-hopeful Flames to the close win.
Lee Stempniak scored the only goal for the Coyotes, who have lost four of
five. Jason LaBarbera, getting the start because the team rested Ilya
Bryzgalov, allowed both goals on 31 shots in defeat.
"I thought our guys pushed hard tonight but we couldn't get the one we needed
to tie it up," said Phoenix head coach Dave Tippett.
Phoenix is expected to start Bryzgalov in net tonight. The Russian backstop is
a possible candidate for the Vezina Trophy with a 40-20-5 record and a league-
leading eight shutouts this season. Bryzgalov is 4-5-2 in 10 career starts
Edmonton has lost its last four games in regulation and is coming off Friday's
setback in Dallas. Jamie Benn posted two goals and one assist as the Stars
blew a three-goal lead but recovered to down the Oilers, 6-3, at American
Dustin Penner, Marc Pouliot and Ethan Moreau scored during a second-period
burst for the Oilers, while Devan Dubnyk allowed all six goals on 35 shots in
"You can't play half a game and expect to win," said Penner. "We didn't even
play a half game. What can you say, there's times we look good and then
there's times we don't. We had one good period and it's embarrassing."
Tonight's test marks the end of a four-game road trip for the Oilers, who have
a dismal 8-27-3 record away from Edmonton this year.
04/03 11:10:06 ET