NHL

Oilers host Coyotes, hope to keep winning despite slumps

EDMONTON, Alberta -- It really doesn't add up.

A team with as many players in prolonged slumps as the Edmonton Oilers shouldn't be winning games at a regular clip. But the Oilers continue to be in the mix for the Pacific Division lead, and have won their most recent pair of games -- though one of those wins came in overtime and the other was decided in a shootout.

The Oilers hope to continue their winning ways when they host the Arizona Coyotes on Monday night at Rogers Place.

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Right winger Jordan Eberle hasn't scored since Dec. 6. Milan Lucic, who is making $6 million US this season, has no goals and just three assists in his last 10 games. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has one goals in his last eight games.

So many key players going through simultaneous droughts would be murder for most teams. But, thanks to the production of NHL scoring leader Connor McDavid (50 points), the surprising production of the red-hot Patrick Maroon -- seven goals in his last six games -- and Leon Draisaitl, who has 16 goals this season, has somehow given the chance for other Oilers to find their games, while the team remains solidly in the hunt for playoff position.

Because of the heavy reliance on the top line, the Oilers are grinding out wins, like 2-1's shootout decision over Calgary.

"You can tell this group is growing as a team and these tough games, we believe we are going to come out on top, whereas maybe last year where we may have found a way to lose," said Oilers goalie Cam Talbot. "We are finding ways to win these right now."

Monday's game is the fourth of the six-game homestand for the Oilers. They have won two of the first three, and the three remaining games are all against teams that are below them in the standings. It's vital for the Oilers to take advantage of the favourable January schedule, because things will get awfully tough after this stretch.

"After this homestand we play 12 of 16 on the road," said coach Todd McLellan. "We want to bank some points."

Monday's game starts a three-game road trip for the Coyotes, who were shut out by Anaheim on Saturday and have won just 13 of 42 games this season.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett says Alexander Burmistrov, who was claimed off waivers from the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 2, will likely play his first game in a Coyotes jersey on Monday night.

"He's a skill player, we'll see," said Tippett. "We'll get him up and going here. He hasn't played in a while so it will take him a few games to get going. But he's certainly a quick, skilled guy that will add that element to our lineup."

And Tippett said that center Ryan White -- who has been out since Dec. 21 with a lower-body injury, will be go on the road trip, though his status for the Edmonton game is uncertain. Defenseman Jordan Martinook, who hasn't played since Jan. 6, will also go on the trip/Martinook and White both go on the trip.

"Hopefully, we've got some numbers to push it along," Tippett said.

Defenseman Michael Stone said that the Coyotes have to learn from Saturday's shutout defeat and simplify their offense.

"Just hit the net. There's no magic solution. You just have got to bear down on what you are doing and just execute it."

On Sunday night, the Oilers have recalled defenseman Jordan Oesterle from the AHL. The 24-year-old has six assists in 23 career NHL games with Edmonton. It is unclear if he will play Monday.