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Coyotes, Oilers attempt to get back in win column

by Brian Hunter /

OILERS (3-7-1) at COYOTES (6-3-2)


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

Season series: This is the first of five meetings between the Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes, new rivals in the Pacific Division. Each team won once in its opponent's building in 2012-13, with the Oilers taking two of three overall. Nail Yakupov led all players with two goals, including a power-play goal in overtime of Edmonton's 2-1 win in Phoenix on Jan. 30.

Big story: Yakupov had five goals and two assists in the first nine games of his rookie season en route to topping all first-year players in goals (17) and tying for the most points (31). As the Oilers scuffle through the opening month of the 2013-14 season, Yakupov seems to have hit the dreaded sophomore slump. He has no goals and one assist in nine games this time around and has been a healthy scratch twice, but the 20-year-old is still carrying himself confidently.

"It's coming, don't worry," Yakupov said prior to the Oilers' 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals on Thursday. "We've been playing well and what's important is that we're winning games and it doesn't matter who's been scoring points. I just have to keep working hard and if you work hard then the points will come, whether it would be today, tomorrow, next week or next month."

Team Scope:

Oilers: Edmonton had indeed been playing well, with consecutive wins to finish off a six-game road trip, but the Oilers fell to 1-3-0 at Rexall Place after Thursday's defeat and head back out for a brief weekend swing at Phoenix and the Los Angeles Kings.

It was a tough night for the line of Yakupov, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, which was on the ice for all four goals by the Capitals.

"We made four or five mistakes and it seemed like they capitalized on every one," Eberle said in The Edmonton Journal.

Coyotes: A stretch of seven straight games with a point (5-0-2) ended for Phoenix on Thursday in Los Angeles, but the Coyotes didn't go down without a fight.

The Kings blitzed them for four first-period goals only to see the Coyotes come all the way back as Jeff Halpern and Martin Hanzal scored in the second, and then Hanzal and Shane Doan lit the lamp 59 seconds apart early in the third. But the Coyotes ran out of gas after that and the Kings recovered to deal them a 7-4 loss.

"It looks like our season, where we can be so good at times and then we can be so bad at times," Doan said. "As leaders, we've got to talk and we've got to stick to what's fundamentally working for us because that's really what our games is -- keeping it simple and doing things right, the way that we know to, instead of trying to get off our own page."

Who's hot: Hanzal has three goals in as many games for the Coyotes. Keith Yandle has four assists in the past two games. Radim Vrbata has a goal and two assists in the past two games.

Injury report: Edmonton defenseman Corey Potter (back) has been sent to Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment. Forwards Ryan Hamilton (knee), Steve MacIntyre (knee), Sam Gagner (jaw), Jesse Joensuu (back), Taylor Hall (knee) and Ryan Smyth (groin) are all out. … Phoenix forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) is on injured reserve.

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