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Oilers bring potent power play in to Phoenix

by Tal Pinchevsky

OILERS (3-2-0) at COYOTES (2-4-0)


Season series: This is the first of three meetings this season between the two clubs. Edmonton didn’t fare too well against Phoenix last season, going 0-3-1 against the eventual Pacific Division champions.

Big story: Entering a run that will see them play five of their next seven contests on the road, the Oilers are looking to build on their hot play of late. The Coyotes, on the other hand, are in the middle of a period that will see them play six of seven at home. They're hoping to move on from a slow start to their season following a 4-0 win over Nashville on Monday night.

Team Scope:

Oilers: While the young Oilers appear to still be learning how to harness their talent to produce wins, there aren't many teams in the NHL who are as exciting to watch. That's particularly true of their power play, which is scoring at a 35.7 percent clip, the second-highest rate in the League.

That unit was on full display Monday night against Colorado as the Oilers scored all four of their goals with the man advantage on their way to a 4-1 win.

But the Edmonton power play wasn't the sole reason for the victory. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk had one of his best outings of the young season, stopping 37 of 38 shots against an Avalanche team that had won two of its previous three games.

"Our power play was clicking," said Jordan Eberle, who is one of four Oilers players with two power-play goals this season. "We were a little hesitant five-on-five and are struggling a bit, but when your power play is clicking, it helps a lot."

Coyotes: After starting the season 1-4-0, the Coyotes went with a change in net Monday night against Nashville, as Chad Johnson saw his first NHL action since March 31, 2011, when he replaced Henrik Lundqvist in a 6-2 Rangers loss to the Islanders. Necessitated by the recent injury to starter Mike Smith, Johnson got his first NHL start since Jan. 31, 2010 and stopped all 21 shots he faced on his way to his first career shutout.

After slumping early on this season, Phoenix made sure to give Johnson an early lead, with Antoine Vermette opening the scoring just three minutes into the match. Keith Yandle provided a goal and two assists to break out of a three-game pointless slump to give the Coyotes an important win.

"It was an easy game, and I had a lot of help. I wanted to help the team win and the opportunity was there tonight," Johnson said. "I wasn't nervous, but I didn't know what to expect because it's been a while since I've been in NHL action."

Who's hot: The Oilers' offense has been led by Taylor Hall, who has a point in every game so far this season and leads the team with seven. Eberle has goals in consecutive games and leads the team with three. … Oliver Ekman-Larsson has helped to pace the Coyotes attack, registering five points in his last four games. Wing Lauri Korpikoski also has two goals in his last three contests.

Injury report: Edmonton has numerous players on IR, including Ben Eager (concussion), Ryan Jones (eye), Theo Peckham (hip), Nikolai Khabibulin (hip) and Andy Sutton (knee). … Smith, who is on IR with a lower-body injury, is the main absentee Coyote, but the team is also missing Matthew Lombardi (upper body) and Rostislav Klesla (lower body) as well as Raffi Torres, who is still serving a suspension.

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