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Oilers host Coyotes to open five-game homestand

by Davis Harper

COYOTES (15-7-4) at OILERS (9-17-2)


Last 10: Phoenix 4-4-2; Edmonton 5-5-0

Season series: The Phoenix Coyotes scored twice in the final 10 minutes for a 5-4 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 26, triggering a five-game winning streak. The Coyotes are 12-2-2 against their new Pacific Division foe under coach Dave Tippett.

Big story: The Coyotes are coming off a season-worst 1-3-1 stretch to end November. Phoenix and struggling goaltender Mike Smith will look to rebound as they kick off a four-game road trip.

The Oilers doubled their season point total to 20 with a recent 5-2-0 stretch but remain at the bottom of the Western Conference. Edmonton hopes to build on that momentum during a five-game homestand at Rexall Place.

Team Scope:

Coyotes: Phoenix will need faster starts if it hopes to shake its recent skid. The Coyotes have scored one first-period goal in the past five games (in a win against the Minnesota Wild), falling into deep holes in losses to the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators and, on Saturday, the Chicago Blackhawks.

Against the Blackhawks, the Coyotes took two penalties in the first 1:14 and found themselves down 3-0 at the first intermission. Phoenix cut into the lead with two goals in the second period, but Chicago responded with two goals in the third on its way to 5-2 victory. The Coyotes are 0-2-1 in their past three home games after starting 9-0-1.

"You can push back after 3-0, but let's start the game on time," Tippett said. "That's frustrating. It's so foreign from how you want to play if you're going to be able to compete with a team like that. It's almost inconceivable we could do it, but we did."

Smith is on a prolonged cold streak. He has allowed at least three goals in six consecutive games for the first time in his NHL career, which spans 286 appearances.

Oilers: Edmonton has slowly begun to turn things around. The Oilers have five wins in seven games, a streak that includes a 7-0 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets and, most recently, a hard-fought shootout win against the Dallas Stars. Edmonton twice erased one-goal deficits against the Stars on Sunday, and David Perron's shootout stunner sealed it for the Oilers.

"I think in order to be a good hockey team, you have to show some resiliency because things aren't always going to go your way," said forward Ryan Jones.

The Oilers are 1-for-25 on the power play over the past five games. The Oilers give up 30.5 shots per game, 45 to the Stars. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who had started the past three games and recorded a shutout against the Nashville Predators, is being assessed after leaving the game against Dallas with an upper-body injury.

Who's hot: Coyotes leading scorer Martin Hanzal has a goal and two assists over a three-game point streak. … Oilers wing Jordan Eberle scored in the shootout against Dallas and has a goal and two assists over the past three games.

Injury report: Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body) is questionable, and wing Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) is out. They will join Phoenix on the road, and Tippett said Korpikoski could return at some point on the trip. … Oilers center Boyd Gordon (upper body) is doubtful and defenseman Philip Larsen (back) remains sidelined.

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