GAME: Edmonton Oilers (25-27-10-1) at Phoenix Coyotes (20-24-15-4).
TIME: Friday, 9 p.m. EST.
A loss to the NHL's worst team wasn't the debut interim coach Rick Bowness
was looking for.
The Phoenix Coyotes will try to give Bowness his first win when the Edmonton
Oilers visit Glendale Arena for the first time.
In his first game as coach of the Coyotes, Bowness' team did something no
team had done in more than a month - lose to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Ric Jackman beat Brian Boucher with 3:12 left in overtime, lifting the
Penguins to a 4-3 victory and ending their 18-game winless streak.
Bowness was named the team's interim coach Tuesday after Bob Francis was
fired. Bowness previously coached the club for 28 games on an interim basis in
1989 when the franchise was located in Winnipeg.
Jan Hrdina, Cale Hulse and Mike Sillinger scored for Phoenix, which failed
to put Pittsburgh away despite taking a two-goal lead and having two 5-on-3
power plays in the second period.
"I think what's disappointing was obviously the third period," Bowness
said. "We backed off. We didn't skate, we weren't controlling the tempo."
Boucher's play over the last month is one reason why the Coyotes have
dropped out of the playoff race in the Western Conference. Since recording a
league-record five straight shutouts from Dec. 31-Jan. 9, Boucher is 3-10-4,
while his goals-against average has risen from 1.63 to 2.53.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan, an All-Star this season, also has struggled
lately with one goal in his last 12 games.
Although closer to the final playoff spot than Phoenix, Edmonton needs to
play much better if it wants to make a run at the postseason.
The Oilers opened a three-game trip Wednesday with a 4-2 loss to Anaheim.
Defensemen Cory Cross and Igor Ulanov had goals for Edmonton, which had a
three-game unbeaten streak snapped.
"We just couldn't sustain an attack on their net," Oilers coach Craig
MacTavish said. "These were valuable points. You have to be closing the gap
instead of letting it widen. We are a .500 team since the All-Star break, and
we missed an opportunity to put the Ducks (playoff hopes) away."
Tommy Salo had his worst performance of the month, allowing four goals on 32
shots. He had held six of his previous seven opponents to two goals or fewer.
STANDINGS (through Feb. 25): Oilers - 61 points, 4th place, 19 PB, Northwest
Division. Coyotes - 59 points, 5th place, 17 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Oilers - Raffi Torres, 17 goals; Ryan Smyth and Radek Dvorak,
26 assists; Smyth, 42 points; Georges Laraque, 91 PIM. Coyotes - Ladislav Nagy,
24 goals; Doan, 39 assists and 60 points; Andrei Nazarov, 118 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 25): Oilers - Power play: 11.7 percent (31 for
264), 30th in NHL. Penalty killing: 81.0 percent (226 for 279), 27th. Coyotes -
Power play: 15.0 percent (42 for 280), 21st. Penalty killing: 82.2 percent (259
for 315), 23rd.
GOALTENDERS: Oilers - Salo (14-17-6, 3 SO, 2.49 GAA); Tyler Moss (no
appearances). Coyotes - Boucher (9-12-8, 5, 2.53); Jean-Marc Pelletier (1-0-0,
SEASON SERIES: 0-0-1.
LAST MEETING: Dec. 12; 3-3 tie. At Phoenix, the Oilers outshot the Coyotes
42-21, but needed Dvorak's power-play goal with 7:46 left in regulation to
salvage a point.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Oilers - 9-15-6-1 on the road; Coyotes - 10-13-5-3 at