Oilers chase third straight against streaking Coyotes
Friday, 02.24.2012 / 12:24 PMCOYOTES (31-21-9) at OILERS (24-30-6)
TV: FS-A (HD), SNET-W
Phoenix 9-0-1; Edmonton 5-4-1
Third of four meetings. The first two matchups were played in Phoenix and won by the Coyotes by identical 4-2 scores. Eight different players have scored goals for Phoenix, while Taylor Hall
leads Edmonton in the series with two goals.
In a matter of weeks the Coyotes have gone from a team that didn't appear to be a playoff contender to one that nobody in the Western Conference wants to face in a best-of-seven series. Phoenix is still a long ways from having anything locked up, but having gone 10 in a row without a regulation loss to tie San Jose for first in the Pacific Division, the team is firing on all cylinders. The Oilers, on a two-game winning streak of their own, will try to slow down the Coyotes.
If a three-goal first-period deficit against Los Angeles earlier in the week wasn't enough to deny Phoenix, then falling behind 2-0 in the opening period at Calgary on Thursday didn't figure to faze the Coyotes much, either. They chipped away, getting goals in the second by Daymond Langkow
and Shane Doan
, then went ahead midway through the third courtesy of the ageless Ray Whitney
. The Flames tied things up late, but for the second game in a row the Coyotes prevailed in a shootout, 4-3, as Whitney struck again for the decisive goal.
"We're all smiles and happy right now because we keep finding ways to win," Doan said. "It might not be pretty and it might not be the way coaches have it drawn up at the beginning, but we've found ways to come back. It gives us a belief system in your game that you know you can do it."
A groin strain that has veteran Nikolai Khabibulin
sidelined means Devan Dubnyk
gets an opportunity to show Edmonton he's their man of the future in goal. Dubnyk made his statement loud and clear Thursday by stopping all 35 shots Philadelphia put on him in leading the Oilers to a 2-0 victory at Rexall Place. Jordan Eberle
helped set up Hall's power-play goal 3:26 into the second period that was all the offense Dubnyk would need, and then he added an unassisted tally at the 8:04 mark for some breathing room.
"Tonight when they got some chances late, you just thought he was going to make the saves," defenseman Ryan Whitney
said of Dubnyk. "You can just tell he had so much confidence in there on nights like that. He just looks so big in net, and it's great for us."
Doan has 3 goals in the Coyotes' last two games. Whitney has 1 goal and 4 assists during a four-game points streak. Mike Smith
now has a career-high nine-game winning streak in net. … Dubnyk has stopped 56 of 57 shots in the Oilers' last two games for a .982 save percentage. Eberle has 2 goals and 3 assists in the back-to-back victories. Hall also has goals in consecutive games.
Phoenix forward Gilbert Brule
(head) is doubtful to face his former team after being injured against Los Angeles. Defenseman Derek Morris (personal) is out indefinitely. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla
(upper body) and forward Kyle Chipchura
(wrist) are on injured reserve. … Khabibulin's groin strain is expected to keep him out another week to 10 days, while forward Magnus Paajarvi
's status is up in the air after he left Thursday's game with a knee injury. Defenseman Theo Peckham
(face) and forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
(shoulder) are on injured reserve.
Stat Pack: Antoine Vermette
didn't record an official shot in 17:12 of ice time in his debut for the Coyotes, but he hit a pair of posts and won 60 percent of his faceoffs. … The Oilers as a team won 67 percent of their draws against the Flyers, with Eric Belanger
almost unbeatable, winning 12 of 14 (86 percent).
Edmonton may have owned the second period Thursday, outshooting Philadelphia by a 15-6 margin and scoring both of the game's goals, but Hall credited Dubnyk for keeping the team in the game early -- a pair of penalties in the first and another late in the third gave the Flyers some opportunities, and they outshot the Oilers 29-15 over those periods.
"This is a team that is going to score goals on most nights if you give them a chance," Hall said in the Edmonton Sun. "With the power play at the end and two power plays in the first, he let us settle in, he didn't give up a goal and then we kind of took the game over with our special teams.
"He was a really calming influence for us."