EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers will try to silence the victory howls of the Coyotes Sunday when they visit Rogers Place. Not only is the game a rematch of Friday's 3-2 shootout loss in the desert, but it's a chance to kill a streak that has been a thorn in the Oil's side for quite some time.
The Coyotes have recorded at least a point in 24-straight meetings against Edmonton. The Oilers have not beaten the 'Yotes in regulation since November 23, 2009.
Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan recalls a similar situation earlier in his coaching career.
"The Buffalo Sabres," McLellan said. "It didn't matter what we did or who we put on the ice or where we played, we had trouble. That's just the way it was… I'm aware of the past year and a half history but it obviously goes deeper than that. We've got to find a way to get that monkey off our back and play a good, solid game."
Would ending the streak feel good for the Oilers? Of course. But more valuable than that feeling is the two points a regulation win would come with.
"The weight or the value of the points and the disappointment or joy of winning and losing doesn't change much regardless of who you're playing against," said McLellan.
"They took the point from us (Friday) night, so we want to get that back," said Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl. "We want to beat them in regulation. I think we're aware of that for sure, we know that that's the case. We want to change that as well. We want to beat them. Those are the games we have to win in our conference. Those are huge points for us and we have to make sure we're ready to go (Sunday)."
The Oilers, at least, do not have to dwell on letting a point slip away too long.
"We didn't play our best," said winger Patrick Maroon. "I thought we could have given a better effort but that's what is great in this game that we get to bounce back and we play them Sunday."
One of the things that makes Arizona so difficult to beat consistently is their coaching. Dave Tippett's team is always prepared and disciplined.
"They do not beat themselves. They make your err and take advantage of your mistakes," said McLellan.
"They just don't beat themselves," Draisaitl said. "They play such a disciplined, boring hockey, really. But that's the way to play in this league."
"They're just really structured," said Maroon. "It's hard to get through the neutral zone on them. They don't really go for chances unless it's a breakdown. Once they see a breakdown they get their chances and they capitalize. That's how they've always been coached my four years in the League and with me playing against them all the time."
The Oilers may have some tweaks to their lineup at puck drop on Sunday. Based on Saturday's practice, Matt Hendricks took rushes on the fourth line signaling a possible return to the lineup. Although Drake Caggiula was not in on some of those rushes and drills, he may not be the body to exit the lineup to make room for Hendricks.
"I don't know if Hendricks will replace Caggiula, but there is a good chance that Matty will be back in the lineup," said McLellan. "We like the way he's played the three games. Right now, we're trying to juggle a roster of up to 25 guys when they're healthy.
"To this point, everybody has found a way to contribute to some success. It's not an easy thing. Sometimes players come out because we've got to get others in. The more severe problems we have are when they're not playing well and have to come out. We've had to deal with that a couple times. We'll look at our roster and the health update after practice and make the decision for (Sunday)."
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (12-8-2) vs. COYOTES (7-10-2)
TV: 1:00 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet
Sunday will be the second of five meetings with the Coyotes this season. The Coyotes will host the Oilers on Dec. 21 and will travel to Edmonton again on Jan. 16 and Feb. 14.
The first meeting came on Friday night when the Coyotes defeated the Oilers 3-2 in a shootout.
Oilers team scope:
After three straight wins, the Oilers dropped a 3-2 shootout decision to Arizona on Friday night. They came within 0.1 seconds of winning the game when time expired moments before Connor McDavid's overtime winner crossed the goal line.
McDavid leads the NHL with 28 points through 22 games. He is also tied for ninth in the NHL with 10 goals.
Drake Caggiula has two assists through his first four NHL regular season games. Caggiula was shifted to the wing last game alongside Benoit Pouliot and Leon Draisiatl. Draisiatl ranks third on the Oilers with 16 points and is tied with Jordan Eberle for second in goals with seven.
Coyotes team scope:
Arizona has had a lot of success in recent years against the Oilers, having picked up at least a point in now 24 staight games (20-0-4).
Max Domi recorded his first career hat trick vs. the Oilers last season on Jan. 12 and has 6-2-8 in 6 career games versus Edmonton. Domi also leads the Coyotes in road scoring with eight points in 10 road games.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (2-4-6) and Michael Stone (0-6-6) both averaged at least a point per game vs. Edmonton in 2015-16.
Mike Smith is 14-1-1 with a .924 SV% and 2.31 GAA in 18 career games vs. Edmonton.
The Coyotes penalty kill is very good at home at 92.3% (third in the NHL) but on the road, it's a much different story. They rank dead last at 30th in the NHL at 66.7%.