PHOENIX COYOTES (22-18-1) at
EDMONTON OILERS (19-21-4)
7:08 p.m. MST
Rogers Sportsnet West
630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.
Game Notes | Oilers/Coyotes Stats Comparison | Player Head-to-Head Statistics
The Edmonton Oilers look to extend their winning streak to three games tonight against a team that has had some success of their own recently, the Phoenix Coyotes.
Edmonton is playing the third game of a five-game homestand. They defeated the New York Rangers 3-2 in a shootout on Saturday night then stomped on the New York Islanders to the tune of 4-0 this past Monday.
With the pair of wins, the Oilers are inching closer to that last playoff spot in the Western Conference. They are five points behind eighth-place St. Louis. However, with five teams between them and the last playoff spot Edmonton will need to continue to put up wins the fashion they have been of late.
One of those five teams is the Coyotes. They have won each of their last five games heading into tonight’s action. Most recently, they put up a convincing 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Tuesday night. Phoenix now has 44 points and is one back of the Blues.
This is the second of four meetings this season between these two clubs. Edmonton won 4-2 in Phoenix back on October 18.
Just The Facts...
LINEUP UPDATE (11:44 AM):
Joni Pitkanen (flu) will not play tonight's game which means Dick Tarnstrom draws back in... Robert Nilsson is expected to return to the lineup after being a healthy scratch for two games. Patrick Thoresen is a likely scratch... Mathieu Garon gets the start in goal for the fifth straight game.
OILERS TO WATCH:
After a bit of a slump, Shawn Horcoff
is back. The Oilers centre has a goal and an assist in each of his last two games. Horcoff has picked up points in three of the last four now – all Oilers wins. The last seven times he has not registered a point in a game, the Oilers have lost… Ales Hemsky
has played well since returning from a knee injury. He has a goal and two assists for three points in two games since coming back… Mathieu Garon has been given a chance by head coach Craig MacTavish to play a bunch of games and should make his fifth straight start tonight. Last time out, he made 35 saves in a 4-0 win for his third shutout of the season.
COYOTES TO WATCH:
After a bit of an off-year last season in which he only had 55 points, Shane Doan is on pace to eclipse his career high with 70 points this year. Through 40 games this season, Doan has 35 points to lead the Coyotes… Another player having a career season is Radim Vrbata. He has 32 points in 39 games. His previous career high is 41 set last season while with Chicago… Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has been a huge reason for the Coyotes’ resurgence. The team is 15-8-1 since he was claimed off waivers from Anaheim. Bryzgalov has won 13 of those and has a 2.15 goals-against average and .930 save percentage as a Coyote… Defenceman Ed Jovanovski has 25 points through 40 games. After a couple of tough seasons where he missed a lot of games due to injury, he has rebounded in a huge way. On pace for 50 points, Jovanovski could better his point total of 48 set in 2001-02 with Vancouver.
Edmonton - Matt Greene (ankle) is out. Raffi Torres (knee) is out; Phoenix – Dan Carcillo (lower body injury) is out.
Edmonton's power play has been much better recently. The Oilers have picked up a power play goal in each of their last four games, going 5-for-23 for a 22.7% success rating. Going back even further, they are 19.0% (11-for-58) since December 11, which also marked the return of Sheldon Souray
... As good as Phoenix has been of late with five straight wins, they've been even better on the road. The Coyotes have won each of their last six road games and are 14-8-0 away from home this season. Phoenix is only 8-10-1 at home even though they've won their last three home games... The easiest way to beat the Coyotes is to get to them early. Phoenix is 17-1-0 when scoring the first goal of the game. When leading or tied after two periods, they are 22-3-1. When leading or trailing after one period they're 19-6-1. However, when trailing after two the Coyotes are 0-15-0... The second period is the most dangerous for Phoenix, having scored 40 goals and allowed 28. In the third the reverse happens with the Coyotes having scored 39 and allowed 48... Edmonton has scored 30 and allowed 46 goals in the third.
- Pre-game comments from Stoll, Garon & Gagner. 700K
- Jan 9: Souray, Stortini, MacTavish & Moreau talk about balancing physical play with injuries. 700K
Shawn Horcoff to represent Oilers at NHL All-Star Game in Atlanta -
Edmonton Oilers assistant captain Shawn Horcoff
has been named to the Western Conference All-Star Team for the National Hockey League All-Star Game on Sunday, January 27th in Atlanta. ...more
The Other Side
- Strader's Blog - The television voice of the Phoenix Coyotes delivers an exclusive mid-season blog from his hotel in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. ...more
- Coyotes Midseason Report - With 41 games in the books, we decided to take a look at: "What We Know", "What We Like", "What We Expect", "What To Watch For", and "What We Need." ...more
- Walsh and Pierre do Hollywood - During a recent trip to Los Angeles FSN Arizona host Todd Walsh paired up with Pierre The Fanatic Hockey Snowman for an entertaining ride through Tinseltown! ...more
Item of the Game
- Tonight's item of the game is a Van Era Cap. (Regular $29.99 on sale for $19.99)
From the Fans
Odds and Ends
- Vote for the top play (Dec 27 to Jan 7) - Dustin Penner had two highlight-worthy goals against St. Louis on January 2 but there were plenty of options to choose from for the period of December 27 through January 7. Follow the link to make your choice and get your vote in! ...more
- Register for the Celebrate Hockey Mini-Pack Priority Draw - From now until January 11, you can register for the chance to purchase the Celebrate Hockey Mini-Pack including three great games as well as the top NHL prospects event of the year. Follow the link to sign up today! ...more
From the Wire
A loss to the Edmonton Oilers in October was just one indicator of the problems Phoenix might have in net this season if it didn't make changes. The Coyotes have since been able to settle down nicely.
Led by Ilya Bryzgalov's outstanding play, the Coyotes look to win their seventh straight road game when their season series with the Oilers continues on Thursday night.
Phoenix goaltenders had an .888 save percentage through Nov. 16, marking the fifth-worst mark in the league during that span. Those games included a 4-2 loss to Edmonton on Oct. 18, with Alex Auld giving up three goals on 17 shots.
Auld ended up being traded to Boston, three weeks after the Coyotes claimed Bryzgalov off waivers from Anaheim on Nov. 17. Since then, Bryzgalov is 13-8-1 with a 2.15 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage.
Bryzgalov made 30 saves as Phoenix (22-18-1) extended its winning streak to five games with a 3-1 victory over Calgary on Tuesday night. It also was the Coyotes' sixth straight road win and Bryzgalov has been in net for five of those victories, posting a 1.58 GAA.
"We have a lot of respect for Bryzgalov and he came from a great organization and won a Stanley Cup," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "He played with a guy in (Jean-Sebastien) Giguere, who was one of the best goaltenders in hockey. It's a nice start for him and a good opportunity to be the head dog and he's really taking a liking to it and I know the players enjoy him being in net."
After being stuck as the backup to Giguere in Anaheim, Bryzgalov has started 22 of Phoenix's 24 games since joining the Coyotes. He has helped them move within two victories of matching the longest road winning streak in franchise history, set by the Winnipeg Jets in April 1985.
Phoenix is playing the second game of a four-game road trip, which concludes Friday night in Vancouver. The Coyotes are 14-8-0 on the road, already surpassing its total for road wins from all of last season (13-26-2).
"We have a great young team," said Bryzgalov, who is 1-1-0 with a 2.51 GAA in two starts against Edmonton (19-21-4). "We've started winning games and we have a great future if we keep working hard and believe in ourselves."
The Oilers, meanwhile, got a strong game in net Monday night from Mathieu Garon, who made 35 saves for his third shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over the New York Islanders. That was the second game of a five-game homestand for Edmonton.
Garon opened the homestand by making 29 saves and turning away three New York Rangers in a shootout as the Oilers won 3-2 on Saturday night.
"To win the first two games of a five-game homestand, that was big for us and gives us the opportunity to do something special for the last three games," said Edmonton center Shawn Horcoff, who has a goal and an assist in each of his last two games. "It was a big confidence builder for us."
The Oilers, however, learned Monday that winger Raffi Torres will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn right knee ligament. Torres, who hasn't played since hurting the knee against Detroit on Dec. 13, had five goals and six assists in 32 games this season.