Surging Coyotes visit Edmonton
The Phoenix Coyotes will try to add to their point streak with a fifth straight victory, as they visit the Edmonton Oilers for today's battle at Rexall Place.
The Coyotes have not lost a game in regulation this month, posting a 9-0-1 record in February. The surge began with a season-high five straight victories and Phoenix can match that streak this afternoon.
Phoenix's recent hot stretch has helped move the club into a tie with San Jose for first place in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes and Sharks each have 71 points, placing them three points ahead of Dallas for first place.
Although they've been getting positive results, the Coyotes have not exactly been dominating the competition of late, claiming each game during their current win streak by one-goal margins. The last three victories came after regulation and Phoenix has been forced into overtime in five of its last seven outings.
Phoenix last played on Thursday in Calgary and the Coyotes overcame an early 2-0 deficit to post a 4-3 shootout victory over the Flames. Calgary led 2-0 after one period, but the Coyotes tied the game at 2-2 by the latter part of the second stanza,
Ray Whitney then scored the lone goal of the shootout to lead Phoenix to the comeback win at the Saddledome. After Olli Jokinen's backhander went wide of the net to open the shootout, Whitney skated down the center of the ice and ripped a wrister from the slot that beat Miikka Kiprusoff to the stick side.
Whitney, Daymond Langkow and Shane Doan scored in regulation for Phoenix, while Mike Smith recorded his ninth straight win with 21 saves.
"We didn't feel like we were awful in the first period, but we could have executed better," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "We had a couple of bad breaks, but we knew we had to get ourselves back in the game. We came out and played better in the second."
Phoenix played Thursday without defenseman Gilbert Brule, who suffered a possible concussion in his team's previous game against Los Angeles. He is not expected to play today.
The Coyotes are 15-11-5 as the guest this year and are completing a two-game road trip this afternoon. Phoenix will play its next three games on home ice, beginning with Tuesday's test against Vancouver.
The Oilers are coming off consecutive victories, but the young club still has a long way to go to get into the Western Conference playoff picture. Edmonton is currently the conference's 14th-seeded team and is 14 points out of the West's final postseason berth.
After slamming the Flames by a 6-1 score Tuesday night in Calgary, the Oilers blanked visiting Philadelphia on Thursday. Devan Dubnyk stopped 35 shots for his first shutout of the season and Edmonton took a 2-0 decision over the Flyers at Rexall Place.
"That's a very skilled team over there and I thought we did a good job of boxing them out," said Dubnyk. "The guys put in a couple of good goals in the second period and we were able to shut them down in the third."
Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle scored for the Oilers, who are 16-10-4 as the host this year compared to an 8-20-2 mark as the guest.
The Oilers expect to get a boost today from the likely return of rookie forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft has missed seven games since aggravating a shoulder injury, but is expected to return tonight. Despite playing in just 40 games this year, Nugent-Hopkins is still second among rookie scorers with 35 points.
However, another one of Edmonton's young forwards, Magnus Paajarvi, is questionable for today's game after suffering a knee injury against Philadelphia.
The Coyotes enter today's game having won three straight and eight of their last nine meetings against the Oilers. Phoenix has also won three in a row in Edmonton.