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Ekman-Larsson returning to Coyotes lineup vs. Oilers

Arizona defenseman missed six games; Talbot expected in goal for Edmonton

by Jerry Brown / NHL.com Correspondent

OILERS (29-39-7) at COYOTES (31-34-7)

TV: 10 p.m. ET; FS-A, SNW, NHL.TV

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is expected to return to the lineup when the Arizona Coyotes play the Edmonton Oilers Tuesday.

Ekman-Larsson, who has missed six games because of an upper-body injury, was skating with regular defense partner Connor Murphy at the morning skate Tuesday in expectation of playing for the first time since March 7.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said Ekman-Larsson would be a game-time decision.

Tippett said Ekman-Larsson looked fine on the ice and was waiting to confirm his thoughts with the training staff.

Ekman-Larsson leads the Coyotes with 30 assists and 49 points. In four games against the Oilers this season he has two goals, including one game-winning goal, and three assists.

His return will be welcome news for the Arizona power play. Arizona has been shut out in its past two games, and in each game they had a 5-on-3 power play they failed to convert.

"[Ekman-Larsson] would help our puck-moving, our 5-on-5 play, our power play … you put a really good player in the lineup and it helps you," Tippett said. "We kept him out a few extra days to make sure he can play the way he needs to play."

Arizona is hoping its offensive fortunes change against a team they have dominated for half a decade.

The Coyotes are 3-0-1 and have scored 15 goals in four games against the Oilers this season, extending their point streak against the Oilers to 22 games (18-0-4). The Coyotes haven't lost to the Oilers in regulation since Jan. 25, 2011. Tippett is 23-2-4 against the Oilers in seven seasons with the Coyotes.

The Oilers went 2-3-0 on a homestand they finished Sunday with a 3-2 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. The power play has been an issue; they have four goals on 24 chances in their past eight games, but all four goals came in one game.

Edmonton forward Patrick Maroon will not play because of an illness. Adam Cracknell or Anton Lander will replace him and skate on the top line with Connor McDavid and Jordan Eberle.

Coyotes goalie Mike Smith will celebrate his 34th birthday by starting in goal. Smith made 44 saves in a 4-0 shutout of the Oilers at Rexall Place on March 12 and is 12-1-1 with a 2.36 goals-against average in his career against Edmonton.

Smith has played well since missing 40 games following abdominal surgery, stopping 104 of 107 shots in three games.

Cam Talbot will start in goal for the Oilers.

Here are the projected lineups

OILERS

Adam Cracknell - Connor McDavid - Jordan Eberle

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Iiro Pakarinen

Lauri Korpikoski - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Nail Yakupov

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Zack Kassian

Andrej Sekera - Mark Fayne

Griffin Reinhart - Adam Clendening

Darnell Nurse - Jordan Oesterle

Cam Talbot

Laurent Brossoit

Injured: Patrick Maroon (illness), Oscar Klefbom (foot), Andrew Ference (hip), Brandon Davidson (knee), Benoit Pouliot (shoulder), Eric Gryba (knee), Adam Pardy (undisclosed)

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Anton Lander, Nikita Nikitin

COYOTES

Alex Tanguay - Antoine Vermette - Anthony Duclair

Jiri Sekac - Martin Hanzal - Max Domi

Tobias Rieder - Brad Richardson - Shane Doan

Jordan Martinook - Boyd Gordon - Sergei Plotnikov

Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Connor Murphy

Klas Dahlbeck - Zbynek Michalek

Kevin Connauton - Michael Stone

Mike Smith

Louis Domingue

Injured: Anders Lindback (Achilles), Joe Vitale (fractured orbital)

Scratched: Kyle Chipchura, Nicklas Grossmann, Viktor Tikhonov

Status report: With Ekman-Larsson set to return, the Coyotes returned Philip Samuelsson to Springfield of the American Hockey League. … Grossman missed the 3-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday because of a lower-body injury but Tippett said he is healthy enough to play Tuesday. … Tippett did some line shuffling looking for a spark. Sekac, a healthy scratch the past six games, skated with Hanzal and Domi, with Rieder moving alongside Richardson and Doan.

Who's hot: McDavid has five points, all assists, during a four-game point streak. … Domi has four goals and six points in four games against the Oilers this season.

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