NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, March 17th
(All times eastern)
Phoenix Coyotes (37-23-11) at Edmonton Oilers (23-38-9), 9 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Right in the thick of a tight playoff race in the Western
Conference, the Phoenix Coyotes aim to extend a five-game point streak this
evening when they visit the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place.
The Coyotes picked up their third straight victory on Tuesday, a 4-3 win at
Calgary that improved Phoenix to 4-0-1 in its last five games. That has pushed
the Coyotes point total to 85, three back of first-place San Jose in the
Pacific Division and good enough for a tie with Los Angeles for the fourth
spot in the conference.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 24 saves in Tuesday's victory for Phoenix, which has won
the first two contests of a four-game road trip and is 20-12-5 as the guest
"He was big for us. We're not necessarily the prettiest group, but we find
ways to win and that was big tonight," said Phoenix's Shane Doan, who had an
assist to give him 16 points in his last 15 games.
Lee Stempniak scored for the first time since Jan. 22, while Eric Belanger,
Keith Yandle and Michal Rozsival all added goals.
Edmonton began its recent road trip with a victory in Colorado, but went on to
drop consecutive games to Philadelphia, Washington, Detroit and Pittsburgh to
round out the swing. The Oilers ended their trek with a 5-1 loss to the
Penguins on Sunday.
Ryan Jones provided the sole offense and Devan Dubnyk yielded all five goals
on 33 shots for the Oilers, who return home having won five of their past
seven at Rexall Place.
"Underwhelmed would be accurate," said Oilers head coach Tom Renney after his
club failed to turn in a strong performance like the one in Friday's 2-1
overtime loss at Detroit. "We came out in this game as spectators. We put
ourselves behind the eight ball right away by how disengaged we were."
Edmonton is last in the NHL with 55 points and played on Sunday without Ales
Hemsky, Taylor Hall, Sam Gagner and Theo Peckham due to injury. Shawn Horcoff
then suffered a left foot injury after getting hit by a shot and could miss
about a week, while Gilbert Brule suffered a concussion in the setback.
With the numerous injuries, the Oilers recalled three players from Oklahoma
City of the American Hockey League on Thursday: centers Chris Vande Velde and
Ryan O'Marra as well as winger Alexandre Giroux.
The Coyotes had taken the first two meetings this season with the Oilers to
push their series winning streak to five straight games, but Edmonton halted
that run with a 4-3 win at Phoenix on Jan. 25.
The Coyotes have lost seven of their last 10 at Edmonton.
Dubnyk has been in net for all three games of the series this year, going
1-1-1 with a 3.57 goals-against average. Nikolai Khabibulin, who has made just
one start since Feb. 23, is 9-3-1 with a 1.82 GAA in his career versus the
Bryzgalov is 7-6-0 with a 3.16 GAA in his career against Edmonton.
03/17 11:11:53 ET