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EDMONTON OILERS (35-29-9) at
PHOENIX COYOTES (30-36-7)
Start Time: 8:08 p.m. MDT
Television: Rogers Sportsnet West
Radio: 630 CHED, Oilers Radio Network and online at edmontonoilers.com.Today's Game Notes | Oilers/Coyotes Head-to-Head | Stats Comparison by Marc Ciampa | edmontonoilers.com
After two straight losses in regulation time, the Edmonton Oilers are starting to feel things tighten up just a little bit in the Western Conference.
Following last night's action where the Anaheim Ducks defeated Colorado, Edmonton has slipped to 8th place but they can regain their hold on 7th with a victory tonight against the 14th-ranked Phoenix Coyotes.
They also have 9th-place Nashville and 10th-place Minnesota nipping at their heels one point back and the St. Louis Blues two points behind so the importance of tonight's game cannot be understated.
Phoenix has recently embraced the role of spoiler with only one regulation loss in their last four games. That came their last time out, dropping a 6-2 decision to the Ducks. Prior to that, the Coyotes had only one win in nine outings.
Edmonton had a stretch with only one regulation loss in 10 games but have dropped each of their last two. Last time out, they fell 3-2 to the Detroit Red Wings in a heartbreaker during which they were leading 1-0 with less than nine minutes to play.
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between Edmonton and Phoenix. The Oilers have won each of the previous three.
Just The Facts...
Bob Stauffer and Louie DeBrusk preview tonight's game Pre-game comments from Ales Hemsky, Liam Reddox, Jason Strudwick & Craig MacTavish The Other Side: Phoenixcoyotes.com Game Preview The Other Side: Coyotes Pre-game Pre-Game Audio... Game Preview: Bob Stauffer & Louie DeBrusk Jason Strudwick Ales Hemsky Liam Reddox Craig MacTavish Thursday's Audio: Mar. 25: Craig MacTavish on the plane
Playoff Race Update: Oilers now in 8th - Updated March 26 at 8:50 a.m. MDT.The Oilers slipped to 8th spot after the Anaheim Ducks defeated the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. Minnesota also won and moved within a point of the Oilers while climbing to 10th. ...more
The Other Side - news from phoenixcoyotes.com
Coyotes support recycling - Coyotes forward Steven Reinprecht and his wife Sarah recently toured a Phoenix recycling plant to learn more about how recycling helps the environment. | 'Yotes Quotes vs. Edmonton | Preview vs. Edmonton | Doan Pitches | ...more Doan takes mound for Dodgers - Coyotes captain Shane Doan threw out the first pitch at the Dodgers vs. Mariners game on Tuesday. Watch this video to see if he tossed a ball or strike. | The Desert Dog Blog ...more
From the Fans
Click here to read today's gameday thread on the Oilers message board.
Odds and Ends
Jen's Journal: Midwestern Road Swing - Three arenas, three U.S. cities, and four Air Oil flights -- Oilers staffer Jen Sharpe joined the team on their recent road trip to Colorado, Chicago, and Minnesota, and she covers everything from mid-air movies to media meals in her latest blog. ...more 5 Questions with Dustin Penner - Stitches, Sunbirds, and Subway sandwiches are among the topics Dustin Penner addressed in his most-recent Off The Ice interview. Follow the link for his answers and more Oilers player features. ...more
From the Wire (AP)
With only nine regular-season games remaining, every point is critical for an Edmonton Oilers team in the hunt for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference.
A third-period collapse against one of the NHL's best teams kept the Oilers from earning a point their last time out and left them feeling bitter. Facing the Phoenix Coyotes should improve their mood.
Edmonton looks to avoid losing its third straight game Thursday night when it tries for its eighth consecutive victory over the Coyotes.
After earning at least one point in seven straight games (4-0-3), the Oilers (35-29-9) have gone without a point in their last two. They have not suffered three consecutive regulation losses since Oct. 22-25 - their first defeats of the season.
Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Detroit was especially disappointing, as the Red Wings scored all their goals in the final period.
Detroit's first goal tied it at 1 with 8:45 left. Then with less than two minutes remaining, the Red Wings scored twice 32 seconds apart.
"I'd say that feels worse than losing 10-2," Oilers forward Dustin Penner said. "Especially at this point of the season with the way we have been playing and who we were playing tonight. That one stings."
Ales Kotalik scored with 1 minute to play, but the Red Wings were able to hang on.
"A game like that leaves everybody with a heavy heart," Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. "It's an incredible sense of disappointment. But at the same time we played pretty well and in a lot of ways outstanding. The way we checked and killed penalties. It's disappointing but we'll take some solace in that.
"It's going to be quite the nine-game stretch here down to the end."
The Oilers begin this final stretch against the Coyotes (30-36-7), whom they haven't lost to since Feb. 27, 2007.
Edmonton has outscored Phoenix 35-16 in the seven meetings since the start of last season with each game being decided by at least two goals.
"They've won seven of the last seven," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "We got to be a harder team to play against when we play against them."
Ales Hemsky has four goals and nine assists during the winning streak over the Coyotes, but has struggled to find the back of the net lately. Hemsky, tied with Sheldon Souray for the Oilers lead with 21 goals, has gone eight straight games without a score.
Dwayne Roloson, who stopped 41 shots Tuesday in his 29th straight start for Edmonton, has been in net six times during the winning steak over Phoenix, posting a 2.33 goals-against average in those games.
While the Oilers are hoping to end a two-year playoff drought, the Coyotes are likely going to miss the postseason for the sixth straight time.
Phoenix lost to Anaheim 6-2 on Sunday after an impressive 5-1 win over Vancouver on Saturday. The Coyotes have alternated wins and losses in their last four games after going 1-7-1 in their previous nine.
Ilya Bryzgalov allowed six or more goals for the sixth time this season Sunday after stopping 93 of 99 shots in his previous three games. He is 0-3-0 with a 5.72 GAA in four starts against the Oilers since the start of last season.
Doan scored his team-leading 28th goal Sunday and is two shy of matching his career high set in 2005-06.