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AT THE MORNING SKATE
The Oilers wrap up a short two-game road trip tonight looking to come home with two wins as they face the Phoenix Coyotes tonight at the Jobing.com Arena in Glendale.
“It’s been good. We’re only halfway through the job here, and we are on the job. That’s what we have to remember,” Oilers head coach Tom Renney pointed out in his interview following the morning skate.
The Oilers last played the Coyotes on Friday night in a game where they raced out to a 3-0 lead only to have the Coyotes battle back and ultimately tie it up in the final minute. Phoenix then took the two points in a shootout.
“They put us into a situation where they got a goal. One of the thing we have to learn as a hockey club is to control those situations,” said Renney. “There’s all kinds of momentum shifts in a hockey game and we have to learn to control those shifts.”
Oilers forward Jordan Eberle agreed with the head coach.
“Obviously it’s a chance to get a little bit of redemption, giving up three unanswered and losing in the shootout. We’re coming off a pretty good game and we need to continue that.”
The Oilers did show a lot more resolve on Sunday where they once again relinquished a multi-goal lead at 2-0 but showed resolve in getting the victory in the third period.
“I’d like to think that over the last week or 10 days as a coaching staff, we’re capable of (battling through adversity) – regardless of having done it against Anaheim or not,” Renney remarked.
Lineups are expected to be exactly the same as Sunday, with Smid out once again. The defenceman did skate but is likely being held out for one more game for conditioning reasons.
DUBNYK STARTS AGAIN
“Never,” said Dubnyk when asked when the last time he got three straight starts. “Sometime in Springfield, I guess. I was scheduled to last year but ended up getting sick.”
The Oilers netminder has put up solid numbers so far this season with a .929 save percentage and 2.76 goals-against average in six appearances. He has also yet to lose in regulation, with a 1-0-3 record.
“Put simply, that’s pretty much a goaltender’s job is to give his team a chance to win whether it’s 7-6 or 1-0.”
Dubnyk was also in net on Friday against these same Coyotes but doesn’t see the familiarity as a real distinct advantage.
“You get a little bit of an idea what their game plan is but at the same time, every game’s different. You get different momentum swings, power plays, penalties and all that. I just try to keep myself prepared the same way regardless of who the opponent is.”
Rookie winger Magnus Paajarvi is on the fourth line once again, alongside J-F Jacques and Colin Fraser. He only played 5:33 last time, the shortest amount in his young NHL career.
“Sometimes you can expose a player who’s struggling to too many minutes. This is a good player and everyone in the game knows he’s going to be a great player in the league,” noted Renney.
Paajarvi has not picked up a point in nine games and is -5 during that span. He had two assists and was +3 on October 26 in Chicago.
Despite his struggles, Renney did not rule out using Paajarvi on the power play.
“That’s an audible from the bench. You see who’s going and who isn’t. There’s opportunity for him to participate on the power play. The penalty kill is something we’d like to work on with him.”
Renney was clear that there has been no discussion among the team’s management and coaching group to send Paajarvi to the minors.
-- Marc Ciampa, edmontonoilers.com
Last 10: Edmonton 2-6-2; Phoenix 7-1-2
Season series: This is the second of four meetings this season, and the second in a span of five days after Phoenix claimed a 4-3 shootout win in Edmonton on Nov. 19. It's a game the Oilers easily could have -- and probably should have -- won. They led 3-0 midway through the second and were still up a goal late in the third. But Wojtek Wolski tied it with 34.4 seconds left in regulation and Eric Belanger had the winning score in the fifth round of the penalty-shot tiebreaker for the red-hot Coyotes.
Big story: Life is good in the desert, where Phoenix has much to be thankful for entering the holiday week. First and foremost, the Coyotes have won six in a row to surge up the Pacific Division standings. They're back home again after sweeping a trip through Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver for the first time since the franchise relocated in 1996. And they welcomed captain Shane Doan back to the lineup against the Canucks.
Oilers: Road wins have been a rare commodity for Edmonton since the calendar year began, but the Oilers will be going for a sweep of this brief two-game road trip after claiming a 4-2 win over the Ducks on Sunday. Ales Hemsky snapped a tie with 6:31 remaining in the third period and Devan Dubnyk continued his strong play since Nikolai Khabibulin went on the injured list by stopping 38 shots. The Oilers blew a 2-0 lead in the second but recovered with a solid third.
"Momentum swings all the time during games, and sometimes it's hard to come back from that," said defenseman Tom Gilbert, who was credited with a bizarre empty-net goal when Corey Perry of Anaheim tried a pass from behind the Edmonton net that went the length of the ice and into the unguarded cage. "We came in here between the second and third periods and we just told ourselves to continue what we were doing, keep pressing them, and the puck was going to go in the net for us. And that's how it turned out."
Coyotes: Taylor Pyatt hadn't scored since the season opener for Phoenix against Boston in Prague, but he torched his former Vancouver teammates for a pair of goals Sunday, including the one that snapped a third-period tie and led the Coyotes to a 3-2 win over the Canucks. Scottie Upshall opened the scoring and Ilya Bryzgalov made 25 saves. Doan, who missed seven games with an upper-body injury, logged 12:39 of ice time and won two of three faceoffs in his return.
"The one thing I like is we've got everybody contributing," coach Dave Tippett said. "Every night, it seems like there's a different guy that steps up and plays well, or a different line. Our goaltending has been solid through it, but for the most part it's been a solid team effort."
Who's hot: Hemsky has goals and multi-point efforts in consecutive games for the Oilers. Dubnyk hasn't lost in regulation in his four starts (1-0-3). … Bryzgalov is 6-0-2 this month for the Coyotes and has a .924 save percentage during his current five-game winning streak.
Injury report: Khabibulin (groin) and defenseman Ladislav Smid (concussion) are on injured reserve for Edmonton. … Phoenix forward Kyle Turris (upper body) is day-to-day, while defenseman Kurt Sauer (concussion) is on injured reserve.
Stat pack: Ryan Whitney leads the Oilers in scoring despite not having a goal this season. All of Whitney's 17 points have come off assists. … Coyotes defenseman Nolan Yonkman assisted on Upshall's goal Sunday for his first point since the 2005-06 season, when he played in 38 games for the Capitals.
Puck drop: Maybe having a little extra company on this road trip has helped Edmonton -- many of the players have their fathers along for the swing through Anaheim and Phoenix.
"I've come to Edmonton for a couple but I really haven't been a lot on the road," Kelly Gilbert, Tom's dad, said before heading to the airport last week. "It's good to see what their lifestyle's like, their day-to-day type of activities. It's not my type of lifestyle because I've never been through it, so this will be kind of exciting."
-- Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer