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Edmonton Oilers vs. Phoenix Coyotes @NHLdotcom
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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, 3.33).


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 home.

Associated Press
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