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Oilers begin homestand against Coyotes

by Brian Compton

COYOTES (25-14-4) at OILERS (16-22-4)

Last 10: Phoenix 6-2-2; Edmonton 1-9-0.

Season Series: This is the second of four meetings between the teams. Jeff Deslauriers made 36 saves for his first NHL shutout in the Oilers' 4-0 win over the Coyotes on Nov. 23 at Rexall Place.

Big Story: Phoenix didn't get the result it wanted on Saturday night, but it opened 2010 by showing the hockey world that the sport is alive and well in the desert. A capacity crowd of 17,125 showed up at Arena to support a team that's future was in jeopardy at the start of the season.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Not only did the Coyotes suffer a 4-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, but they lost forward Scottie Upshall to an upper-body injury during the second period. Upshall leads Phoenix with 14 goals this season. He was slated to be re-evaluated on Monday.

"In the home building, we should have been able to pull it out," forward Robert Lang said. "We started really good and obviously they kind of came on with the first goal and kind of took the wind away from us. But we came back and just made mistakes."

Oilers: It's been a tough stretch for Edmonton, which has dropped nine of its last 10 games, including Saturday's 4-1 loss at San Jose. Robert Nilsson scored the lone goal for the Oilers, who begin a four-game homestand on Tuesday. If anything, it at least provides an opportunity to make up some ground in an extremely-tough Western Conference.

"Hopefully we can still take the little steps here," Edmonton coach Pat Quinn said. "At least we have to try. I still believe we can get this thing turned around."

Who's Hot: Ilya Bryzgalov took the loss on Saturday, but it marked the first time since Dec. 19 that the Coyotes' goaltender allowed three goals in regulation. … Oilers forward Dustin Penner leads the Oilers in goals (19) and assists (20) and is tied for the team lead in plus/minus (plus-11).

Injury Report: Besides Upshall, the Coyotes are likely to also be without center Vernon Fiddler, who is day-to-day with a groin injury. Daniel Winnik (arm) and Kurt Sauer (neck) will not play, while James Vandermeer is expected to return to the lineup after missing the past three games with an upper-body injury. … Oilers defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky (ankle) is questionable, while center Marc Pouliot (sports hernia) and goalie Nikolai Khabibulin (back) are day-to-day. Fernando Pisani (colitis) and Mike Comrie (mono) are out indefinitely and Ales Hemsky (shoulder) is done for the season.

Stat Pack: Detroit became only the second team in the last 19 games to score more than three goals against the Coyotes. Since Nov. 23, only the Anaheim Ducks (a 4-2 loss on Dec. 19) had accomplished the feat.

Puck Drop: "You can't fire 23 guys, but I'm sure they'd like to fire a few of us this year." -- Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray
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