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At the Rink: Oilers at Coyotes

by Jerry Brown /

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes will look to translate their recent road success onto home ice Thursday when they face the Edmonton Oilers at Gila River Arena (9 p.m. ET; SNOL, FS-A).

The Coyotes are 6-2-1 on the road this season and have swept four road games from the rival Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, including a first-ever, back-to-back road sweep earlier this week.

But they've lost four of their first six home games, on the heels of an 11-25-5 home record last season, their worst since moving to Arizona in 1996.

"There is no doubt the way we play at home is an area we have to improve," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Coming off the two road wins we should feel good about the things we did well and now we have to play that same type of game on our home ice."

One opponent the Coyotes have handled, no matter the venue, is the Oilers. Arizona swept five games from Edmonton in 2014-15 and the Coyotes have won 15 of the past 18 games against the Oilers, earning a point in all 18 (15-0-3) dating back to January 2011.

Tippett said that history means nothing.

"It's a new year, new coach, new everything," he said. "They have some very dangerous players and there is a different voice in the room. If you give this team time and space they will hurt you."

The clavicle injury to Connor McDavid delays the first NHL matchup with Coyotes rookie Max Domi, who leads Arizona with seven goals and has 13 points in his first 15 NHL games. Rookie Anthony Duclair is right behind Domi with six goals.

"Our kids are playing a lot of minutes and a lot of important minutes, and that gives you the chance to show what you have," Tippett said. "We rely on them to create offense, but they also have to be good defenders and know what to do without the puck. Both of them have been good offensively, but also with fitting in to help the team win."

The Coyotes welcomed center Antoine Vermette back to the lineup in the 3-2 win against the Kings on Tuesday and now have their top-six forwards all playing for the first time in two weeks. Arizona won't have defenseman Nicklas Grossmann or forward Steve Downie against the Oilers.

Tippett said this is a big game for the Coyotes, who can win three in a row and jump three games over .500 for the first time since starting the season 3-0-0, and do it against three divisional opponents with another four-game Eastern road trip on the immediate horizon.

"If you look at the schedule, this is a very important division game," Tippett said. "Our schedule is what it is here early in the season (five sets of back-to-backs and 13 of the first 20 games on the road) and we have to make the best of it."

Edmonton, which defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 in overtime on Wednesday, didn't hold a morning skate.

Here are the projected lineups:


Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Jordan Eberle

Anton Slepyshev - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nail Yakupov

Anton Lander - Mark Letestu - Teddy Purcell

Luke Gazdic - Andrew Miller - Iiro Pakarinen

Darnell Nurse - Andrej Sekera

Brandon Davidson - Oscar Klefbom

Griffin Reinhart - Eric Gryba

Anders Nilsson

Cam Talbot

Injured: Connor McDavid (fractured clavicle), Rob Klinkhammer (foot), Justin Schultz (back), Lauri Korpikoski, Matt Hendricks (lower body), Benoit Pouliot (illness)

Scratched: Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference


Tobias Rieder - Martin Hanzal - Anthony Duclair

Max DomiAntoine Vermette - Mikkel Boedker

Jordan Martinook - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan

Kyle Chipchura - Boyd GordonJohn Scott

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Michael Stone

Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek

Stefan Elliott - Connor Murphy

Mike Smith

Anders Lindback

Injured: Joe Vitale (orbital bone), Nicklas Grossmann (lower body), Steve Downie (upper body)

Scratched: Philip Samuelsson

Status report: Pouliot is sick and will miss the game. Edmonton recalled Slepyshev from Bakersfield of the American Hockey League. … Grossmann is hoping to return to the ice later in the week. Downie will miss a second game and did not skate Thursday.

Who's hot: After collecting 13 assists in his first 12 games, Hanzal scored his first two goals of the season against the Kings and has 15 points in 13 games. … Talbot won two starts against the Coyotes while with the New York Rangers last year, making 71 saves on 75 shots.

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