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PRE-GAME REPORT: Oilers at Coyotes

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers

LINEUP CHANGES

The Oilers continue to battle injuries with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins missing his second-straight game and Jordan Eberle being a game-time decision tonight. Now the Oilers are down a goaltender with Viktor Fasth being out indefinitely following a groin injury last night in Los Angeles.

The Oilers recalled goaltender Richard Bachman and winger Steve Pinizzotto from Oklahoma City. Centre Bogdan Yakimov was assigned to the Barons.

Jeff Petry was held out of last night’s game, but he returns to the lineup tonight replacing Brad Hunt.

Ben Scrivens will start in net tonight for the Oilers.

LEARNING EXPERIENCE

The Oilers suffered a 6-1 defeat to the Los Angeles Kings last night. It was a game with far more mistakes and learning experiences than positives, but the Oilers are hoping to take those and move forward.

“I think we’ve got to look at some of the positives from last night, there was a few. Not many, but a few,” Oilers winger Matt Hendricks said. “We’ve got to learn from our mistakes. We knew going into it that it was going to be a tough night for us. The best way to bounce back is to come into tonight and play right away. There’s no rest period, there’s no sitting and thinking about it for a few days. We get to play right away and it’s an opportunity, if we win this game, to get a .500 road trip with three out of six points.”

Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said the team went over last night’s game and found that much of their mistakes were correctable with slight adjustments.

“We went through the mistakes that we made. What’s interesting is this game is turning into a game of inches,” Eakins said. “We were right there with numbers in a number of instances on some of the chances against, but our motion and our ability to keep with the flow rather than stopping, our a stick in the air rather than on the ice, that’s the difference of a puck getting at our net or not.”

With a five-goal loss, it’s hard to see the improvement in a team. But the Oilers are convinced that they’re closer now than they were last year.

“We wanted to show players that, far different from last year, we have numbers in the right area but we’ve got to take it to that detail that we’ve been hammering home about stopping on pucks, shoulder checking, sticks on the ice. Those are things that seem mundane but they’re everything to the game. We like that we have numbers, we don’t like that we’re a second late or a foot off where they were able to get a chance on the net and score. Offensively, we had our chances and once again were unable to bury them.”

FRIENDS MEET AGAIN

The Oilers traded Sam Gagner after a 481-game career in Edmonton. Now with the Coyotes, Gagner will face his former team for the first time in an opposing sweater.

“It’s obviously a little different, having played there for seven years,” Gagner said. “I feel comfortable here now, I feel like I’m getting used to playing in this system, with this group of guys and I think it’s obviously going to be a bit of a change playing against them, but it’s going to be a fun experience.”

Gagner said he’s probably the closest with the players he suited up with for most of his career, but he made an impact on someone who hadn’t played with him long at all.

“First of all, as a person, Sam is a great guy,” Hendricks said. “He’s an outstanding teammate, always has your back, he was a good leader for a young team last year. When I came in, I thought he was one of the guys that really led in the locker room and such and it was sad to see him go, but that’s the way it goes in pro sports and I wish him the best of luck in Arizona.”

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