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Oilers hope to write different story against Coyotes

by Derek Van Diest

COYOTES (11-18-4) at OILERS (7-20-7)


EDMONTON -- The Edmonton Oilers are looking to avoid a regular-season sweep against the Arizona Coyotes at Rexall Place on Tuesday.

The Coyotes (11-18-4) have won all four games against the Oilers (7-20-7) going into the finale of the season series. Arizona has earned at least a point against Edmonton in their past 17 games (14-0-3).

"I think they just kind of wait for us to make mistakes and we've kind of killed ourselves in a lot of the games," Oilers right wing Jordan Eberle said. "Tonight will hopefully be a different story. I like to think we're playing a bit of a smarter game right now. We've addressed the way we need to play with our new coach, with a little bit of energy. I'm excited tonight. The last game before Christmas, where you get a few days off, you really want to try and get a win and feel good about yourself."

The Oilers are on a seven-game losing streak and have lost 18 of their past 19.

Interim coach Todd Nelson took over from fired coach Dallas Eakins on Dec. 15 and has lost his first three games.

On Dec. 16, in Nelson's NHL coaching debut, Edmonton gave up the winning goal with 0.3 seconds left in a 2-1 overtime loss against the Coyotes.

"We definitely want to have a better second period than we did down there," Nelson said. "That was a tough one to lose with 0.3 seconds left. That's still pretty fresh in our minds, but we want to play a solid 60 minutes. That's the biggest thing. We want to play at a high tempo for 60 minutes and try to bring the play to them."

The Oilers lost 6-5 in a shootout against the Dallas Stars in their past game Sunday. Edmonton held a 5-2 lead before giving up three goals in the final 21 minutes of regulation.

Arizona lost 7-1 at the Vancouver Canucks on Monday and did not take part in a morning skate Tuesday.

Oilers goaltender Ben Scrivens will make his fifth consecutive start. Viktor Fasth has not played since being pulled in a 4-2 loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 12.

"We're trying to get [Scrivens] into a rhythm here," Nelson said. "We want to give him the ball and he has to play well in order to keep the net."

Arizona goaltender Mike Smith was pulled Monday after giving up four goals on 11 shots. Goalie Devan Dubnyk made 26 saves in relief. Dubnyk has given up two goals in two wins against the Oilers this season.

Here are the projected lineups:


Mikkel Boedker - Antoine Vermette - Shane Doan

Tobias Rieder - Martin Hanzal - Sam Gagner

Martin Erat - Joe Vitale - B.J. Crombeen

Brandon McMillan - Kyle Chipchura - David Moss

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Zbynek Michalek

Keith Yandle - David Schlemko

Michael Stone - Chris Summers

Devan Dubnyk

Mike Smith

Scratched: Connor Murphy, Alexandre Bolduc

Injured: Brandon Gormley (lower body), Lauri Korpikoski (lower body)


Taylor Hall - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Teddy Purcell

David Perron - Boyd Gordon - Jordan Eberle

Nail YakupovLeon Draisaitl - Tyler Pitlick

Luke Gazdic - Mark Arcobello - Steven Pinizzotto

Oscar Klefbom - Mark Fayne

Brad Hunt - Justin Schultz

Andrew Ference - Jeff Petry

Ben Scrivens

Viktor Fasth

Scratched: Keith Aulie

Injured: Benoit Pouliot (foot), Nikita Nikitin (back), Matt Hendricks (illness).

Status report: Hendricks will not be in the lineup because of illness and will be replaced by Gazdic. Draisaitl returns after being a healthy scratch Sunday against the Stars. Oilers center Anton Lander was returned to the Oklahoma City Barons of the American Hockey League after being called up for one game. Nikitin practiced Tuesday with the Oilers, but will not be back in the lineup in the last game before the Christmas break.

Who's hot: Arcobello scored two goals in the loss against the Stars. Hall scored twice against Dallas, snapping an 11-game scoring drought. … Ekman-Larsson has three goals and one assist in his past four games.

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