GAME: Edmonton Oilers (11-13-3-1) at Phoenix Coyotes (10-10-7-1).
TIME: Friday, 9 p.m. EST.
The Phoenix Coyotes hope to move above .500 for the first time since the
start of the season when they host the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
The Coyotes are 4-1-2 in their last seven games, giving them a chance to
move above the break-even mark for the first time since they were 3-2-0-0 after
their first five games.
Phoenix is coming off a 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday. Sean
Burke, in his 200th game with the Coyotes, tied his season high with 39 saves.
"As a goaltender, your job is to stop them no matter how many you get,"
said Burke, who also made 39 saves in a 6-4 victory over Los Angeles on Nov.
"You knew it was going to be difficult, and I think Sean knew that as
well," coach Bob Francis said. "He stepped forward, and he was outstanding."
The Coyotes could take some pressure off Burke by playing better
defensively. Both Phoenix and Edmonton have allowed 82 goals, most in the
"Our goaltending has been outstanding over the last month and we have to do
a better job in helping them out," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who has 19
points in the last 16 games. "We have to limit the amount of scoring chances
we are giving up if we want to have success."
The Coyotes have excelled when scoring the first goal. They have opened the
scoring in their last five games and are 8-2-4-0 when scoring first.
"Edmonton has a lot of team speed and they will attack our net," Phoenix
defenseman Radoslav Suchy said. "We realize we haven't played our best hockey
over the last couple of games, but we worked hard during practice to make sure
we play very solid defensively on Friday night."
The Coyotes placed Daniel Cleary on injured reserve after he suffered a
separated shoulder Wednesday. Center Jan Hrdina, who missed 11 games with a
fractured toe, was taken off injured reserve Thursday and may play Friday.
The Oilers failed to capitalize on several late scoring chances in their 2-2
tie with the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Edmonton is just 1-6-2-0 in its last
nine, with the only win a 4-3 victory over the hapless Pittsburgh Penguins last
Jason Smith and Ales Hemsky scored and Ty Conklin stopped 28 shots in his
14th start in 15 games for the Oilers. Left wing Brad Isbister, in his first
start back after missing four games with back spasms, had an assist.