AT THE MORNING SKATE:
The Oilers re-introduced a familiar face to the line-up at Tuesday's morning skate. After the Dustin Penner/Shawn Horcoff/Robert Nilsson line and the Patrick O'Sullivan/Ryan Potulny/Gilbert Brule line skated, Fernando Pisani appeared on the team's third line alongside Ryan Stone and Sam Gagner.
Tonight's game will mark Pisani's first contest since November 15, when his ulcerative colitis flared up and took him out of the line-up. The Oilers forward is happy to be back.
"I feel really good out there and I'm just looking forward to getting back in the game situation," Pisani said after the skate. "I've been working hard the last two-and-a-half, three weeks just getting my strength back up, and been practicing a lot now, so I feel confident enough to play."
Fernando in, J-F out
With Pisani's return, Jean-Francois Jacques will be the odd-man-out tonight vs. Phoenix. When asked about the decision, Head Coach Pat Quinn said it was a combination of factors.
"I love the way he tries, but I think he's been trying to force some things, turnovers up the boards and things of that nature. But I could have picked some guys. He's just a young guy, got no points in the last little while.
"It certainly isn't because I'm disappointed in him," Quinn explained. "He won't be totally left aside at all."
Nikolai Khabibulin: According to Quinn, the Oilers goalie is nearing the end of an eight-week window of assessment. If the player is not on the road to recovery at that point, surgery may be an option.
"Obviously, he's the athlete here and he's got decisions to make about what the next steps are. And one of the next steps is surgery."
Lubomir Visnovsky: On the topic of the Oilers defenceman, who injured his ankle New Year's Eve in Calgary, Quinn said it's day-to-day.
"It's not one of those high ankles, it is a sore ankle. And I didn't have an update today but I know he wasn't able to put a shoe on to practice, so I'm sure it's going to be a few days yet."
COYOTES (25-14-4) at OILERS (16-22-4)
Last 10: Phoenix 6-2-2; Edmonton 1-9-0.
Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. Jeff Deslauriers made 36 saves for his first NHL shutout in the Oilers' 4-0 win over the Coyotes on Nov. 23 at Rexall Place.
Big Story: Phoenix didn't get the result it wanted on Saturday night, but it opened 2010 by showing the hockey world that the sport is alive and well in the desert. A capacity crowd of 17,125 showed up at Jobing.com Arena to support a team that's future was in jeopardy at the start of the season.
Watch the World Juniors Tonight at Rexall Place: Team Canada takes on Team USA in the Gold Medal Game of the World Junior Hockey Championships starting at 6:00 p.m. tonight. You can watch the game live on the scoreboard at Rexall Place starting at 6 up until game time and then during breaks throughout the game. Tickets still available online , including half price singles >
Coyotes: Not only did the Coyotes suffer a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, but they lost forward Scottie Upshall to an upper-body injury during the second period. Upshall leads Phoenix with 14 goals this season. He was slated to be re-evaluated on Monday.
"In the home building, we should have been able to pull it out," forward Robert Lang said. "We started really good and obviously they kind of came on with the first goal and kind of took the wind away from us. But we came back and just made mistakes."
Oilers: It's been a tough stretch for Edmonton, which has dropped nine of its last 10 games, including Saturday's 4-1 loss at San Jose. Robert Nilsson scored the lone goal for the Oilers, who begin a four-game homestand on Tuesday. If anything, it at least provides an opportunity to make up some ground in an extremely-tough Western Conference.
"Hopefully we can still take the little steps here," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said. "At least we have to try. I still believe we can get this thing turned around."
Who's Hot: Ilya Bryzgalov took the loss on Saturday, but it marked the first time since Dec. 19 that the Coyotes' goaltender allowed three goals in regulation. … Oilers forward Dustin Penner leads the Oilers in goals (19) and assists (20) and is tied for the team lead in plus/minus (plus-11).
Injury Report: Besides Upshall, the Coyotes are likely to also be without centre Vernon Fiddler, who is day-to-day with a groin injury. Daniel Winnik (arm) and Kurt Sauer (neck) will not play, while James Vandermeer is expected to return to the lineup after missing the past three games with an upper-body injury. … Oilers defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (ankle) is questionable, while centre Marc Pouliot (sports hernia) and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (back) are week-to-week. Fernando Pisani (colitis) is a question mark and Mike Comrie (mono) is out indefinitely. Ales Hemsky (shoulder) is done for the season.
Stat Pack: Detroit became only the second team in the last 19 games to score more than three goals against the Coyotes. Since Nov. 23, only the Anaheim Ducks (a 4-2 loss on Dec. 19) had accomplished the feat.
Puck Drop: "You can't fire 23 guys, but I'm sure they'd like to fire a few of us this year." -- Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray.