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Coyotes host Oilers, look to snap three-game skid

by Jon Lane

OILERS (26-42-9) at COYOTES (36-28-13)


Last 10: Edmonton 3-6-1; Phoenix 5-3-2

Season series: This is the fifth and final game between the Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes. Phoenix is 4-0-0 against Edmonton in 2013-14 and hasn't lost in regulation to the Oilers since Jan. 25, 2011.

Big story: Neck and neck with the Dallas Stars for the second Western Conference wild-card spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Coyotes missed an opportunity Wednesday to pass the idle Stars when they were blanked 4-0 by the Los Angeles Kings. Phoenix had a season-low 17 shots on goal.

"It's not the ideal situation, but you can't worry about that," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "You've got to worry about the next game ahead of us."

The Coyotes return home to face the Oilers, who are 12-22-6 on the road.

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton, which is 29th in the overall NHL standings, put a scare into two playoff teams in consecutive games. After playing the San Jose Sharks tough in a 5-4 loss Tuesday, the Oilers led the Anaheim Ducks 2-0 in the third period Wednesday before losing 3-2. Considering the type of season it's been, coach Dallas Eakins has been impressed with the Oilers' effort as the schedule winds down.

"I think there are a lot of people in our market that were wondering if [the players] were going to start mailing it in," Eakins said, "Believe me, I'm not going to sit here and accept losing games by a goal, but it's hard to critique that group when they're fighting so hard."

Coyotes: Phoenix has lost three straight and five of seven (2-3-2). After playing the Oilers, three of the Coyotes' final four games are against teams either in or close to qualifying for the postseason, including a potential showdown against the Stars in the season finale April 13.

If they win their remaining five games, the Coyotes will finish with 95 points, which could be enough for a wild-card spot. They will be looking to repeat what they accomplished two seasons ago when they ended on a five-game winning streak to clinch the Pacific Division.

''We are still out of the playoffs right now, but we all know how important these points are,'' forward Martin Hanzal said. ''So we have to make sure we win the rest and get in."

Who's hot: Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has at least a point in three of his past five games (2-3-5). Forward Jordan Eberle has 10 points in his past seven games. … Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker has at least one point in six of his past nine games. He has three goals and four assists over that span.

Injury report: Oilers forward Tyler Pitlick (knee) is day-to-day. Forward Nail Yakupov (fractured ankle) is out indefinitely. Forwards Jesse Joensuu (high ankle sprain), Ryan Jones (torn PCL) and Luke Gazdic (shoulder) and defenseman Andrew Ference (pectoral tear) are out for the season … Coyotes forward David Moss (lower body) is expected to return. Defenseman David Schlemko (bruised left foot), who has not played since March 6, resumed skating Monday and is day-to-day. Goalie Mike Smith (lower body) remains out and will be re-evaluated over the weekend.


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