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Oilers wrap homestand vs Coyotes

by Staff Writer / Edmonton Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers conclude their three-game homestand tonight when they face the Phoenix Coyotes for the first time in 2006-07.

Despite a bevy of free-agent additions in the off-season, the Coyotes have been off to a slow start. Through their first eight games, they only have two wins and have allowed the second-most goals against next to Philadelphia.

After a season-opening win against the NY Islanders, the Coyotes have lost six of their last seven and only one of those losses was by less than three goals.

Last season, the Oilers won two of the four meetings, lost one in overtime and lost one in a shootout. One of the Oilers wins came in a shootout while the other was a 7-1 Edmonton victory.

OILERS TO WATCH: Steve Staios has had a strong start to the season for Edmonton. Through seven games, Staios has a goal and is leading the team with four assists. He is also tied for third on the team with five points and first in plus/minus at +6 Dwayne Roloson picked up right where he left off last season, with a 2.18 goals-against average and .931 save percentage Ethan Moreau is the Oilers leader in shots on goal with 18.

COYOTES TO WATCH: Although hes had a tough start to the season with no goals and two assists and a healthy scratch for three games, last year Oleg Saprykin was dangerous against the Oilers with three goals Ladislav Nagy and Shane Doan are a dangerous combination up front. The pair are the teams two leading scorers Fans will likely keep an eye on Georges Laraque, making his return to Rexall Place after signing with Phoenix in the summer. Laraque has seven PIM though seven games and is a minus-five. He was a healthy scratch last game for the Coyotes but should suit up tonight.

ROSTER UPDATES: Edmonton – Fernando Pisani (knee) is probable. Ethan Moreau (shoulder) is questionable; Phoenix – Mike Ricci (neck) is out. Keith Ballard (hand) is out. Steven Reinprecht (collar bone) is out. Joel Perrault (ribs) is probable.

The Oilers are off to a solid start on home ice, having won each of their first four games at Rexall Place. It's the first time since 1986-87 that the team has won its first four games on home ice. That season, the club started 6-0-0 at home... The club did not win four games in a row at home all last season. The last time that feat was accomplished was 2002-03 from March 15 to 28 when the team won five in a row.

FAST FACTS: In one of those statistical oddities, the Oilers have not lost a game this season in which they allowed a power play goal. They allowed three against San Jose on October 12 but won the game and allowed one last Tuesday late versus Vancouver but hung on to win 2-1 Despite the slow start, Phoenix had outshot its opponents in five of its first seven games averaging 32.4 shots per game The Coyotes roster has four former Oilers: Curtis Joseph, Mike Morrison, Mike Comrie and Laraque.

The Oilers hit the road to face Chris Pronger and the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. Game time is 8:00 p.m. and it can be seen on TSN.
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