The Edmonton Oilers had to weather a tough road-heavy schedule early. But now that they're finally playing some games at home, they're not finding it to be much of an advantage.
The Oilers will try to avoid a third straight loss at Rexall Place as the Phoenix Coyotes head north on Monday, looking to earn at least a point for the seventh straight game.
Eighteen of Edmonton's first 26 games were on the road, a stretch the Oilers weathered by going 10-8-0 as part of their 13-11-2 overall record.
Four of the Oilers' last five games have been at home, but they've lost three of them, getting shut out by Florida and giving up nine goals to Chicago before Friday's 3-2 shootout loss to Anaheim. After going 23-17-1 at Rexall Place last season, they're 4-5-3 there in 2008-09, losing eight of their last 10 at home.
They've been outscored 15-6 while losing three straight overall and falling into last place in the Northwest Division, but they're hoping a late comeback against the Ducks is a sign of progress.
Edmonton (14-14-3) trailed 2-0 after two periods - a stretch of the game coach Craig MacTavish said "looked like it was a train wreck" - but the Oilers outshot Anaheim 21-4 in the final 20 minutes of regulation, tying the game before falling in the shootout.
"You have to take some confidence away from battling back like that," forward Shawn Horcoff said. "It was a character point for us tonight."
The Coyotes (16-13-4) have been racking up plenty of points recently, winning their last two games to improve to 4-0-2 over their last six.
The leader in Saturday's 2-0 win over Columbus was Ilya Bryzgalov, who made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season. Bryzgalov has been outstanding recently, stopping 91 of 94 shots over his last three starts.
"He has the ability to be a special player, and no question, he was the difference in this hockey game," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said. "He seems to be seeing the puck very well, and this is as solid as I've seen him play."
Bryzgalov's - and Phoenix's - success, though, hasn't always translated to the road, where the Coyotes are 5-9-2. Bryzgalov is 4-9-1 with a 3.43 goals-against average away from Phoenix as this contest opens a three-game road trip.
The goalie has also struggled against the Oilers, going 1-3-0 with a 4.19 GAA lifetime against them and getting pulled after allowing three first-period goals of Phoenix's 8-4 loss in Edmonton on March 18.
The Coyotes went 0-4-0 against Edmonton in 2007-08, and were outscored 13-6 in their two visits to Rexall Place. A bronze statue of Gretzky hoisting the Stanley Cup stands outside the building, a tribute to the four Stanley Cup titles the Oilers won while Gretzky was their star player in the 1980s.
Monday's game features one of the worst power play units in the league - Phoenix's - against Edmonton's equally bad penalty killers.
The Oilers have allowed six power play goals in their last three games, ranking 29th in the league (74.3 percent), but the Coyotes are without a goal on the man advantage in their last three contests. They rank 28th in that category (13.9 percent).