EDMONTON, AB - The Oilers roll into their meeting with the Arizona Coyotes on a two-game winning streak.
When the 'Yotes and Oil last played, the blue and orange dispelled the Coyotes curse, overcoming the Desert Dogs 3-2 in regulation for the first time in 26 games.
This time around, there's no commotion regarding the jinx and more of an emphasis on the team to play their game.
"There are points to be taken, we've got to find ways to come out with it and be sharp," said Patrick Maroon, the Oilers hottest goal scorer of late with seven goals in the last six outings.
Arizona's known for pouncing on mistakes rather than pushing the pace so the Oilers will need to break that system if they want to nab another two points.
"For us, we've got to find ways not to turn pucks over at the neutral zone, get pucks deep and go to work," said Maroon. "We're going to be harping on that a lot. Coming down the stretch, these are the points we need tonight, especially against Arizona, they're going to be coming out flying so we got to find ways to get into it right away … no turning pucks over, breaking out clean and finding ways to get the ugly goals."
The Coyotes have just two wins in their last 12 matches. Both victories were in their last three games.
WAYS TO WIN A GAME
The Oilers have proved they can compete in pretty well any type of game in the 2016-17 campaign.
"I think we can play a fast game, I think we can play a 'grind it out game,' we're becoming better defensively so we can get into that tight, 1-1 checking game," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan.
Playing a full 60 minutes is one of the key reasons the club has found success. That's been a systemic implementation from the organization.
"One thing I think we've done a good job of is understanding the length of the game and being able to, if it's not going well, change the momentum a little bit stay in it and claw back," said McLellan. "That's been a goal of ours since we got here as a new staff and as a new changeover in the organization is to stay with it longer and to understand that there's 60 minutes that you're allotted and you have to use all 60 both when you're ahead or behind."
After missing Saturday's Battle of Alberta, defenceman Adam Larsson and forward Jujhar Khaira will be game-time decisions on Monday.
Larsson laboured a lower-body injury while Khaira dealt with an illness.
"I feel good, so the rest is kind of up to the coach," said Larsson. "Hopefully I can play."
McLellan didn't confirm that Larsson would suit up but there's a good possibility he does.
"I would say that he's pretty darn close to playing," he said. "We'll see how he is after the skate."
The Oil's defence stepped up on Saturday in his absence.
"We missed him [Larsson] but yet we had some good performances from some guys that needed to pick it up a little bit and that was good to see."
Khaira says he's feeling better and is at the ready if McLellan slots him into the lineup.
"We'll see what type of energy level he has," said McLellan. "Apparently, [he had] food poisoning so we know what that can do to an individual. So, we'll see what his gas tank's like and make a decision later on today."
Edmonton has not defeated Arizona at home in regulation since November 23, 2009. Cam Talbot will start in goal.
-- Paul Gazzola, edmontonoilers.com
OILERS (23-15-7) vs. COYOTES (13-23-6)
TV: 7:00 p.m. MST; Televised on Sportsnet West
Tonight's game marks the fourth of five meetings between the Oilers and Coyotes this season and the second of three meetings in Edmonton. The next time these teams will meet is on February 14th in Edmonton.
The last time these teams met was on December 21st in Arizona, when the Oilers defeated the Coyotes by a score of 3-2. Mark Letestu (1G, 2A), Matt Hendricks (1G, 1A) and Zack Kassian (2A) all registered a multi-point game in the win.
Oilers team scope:
The Oilers have won two of their three games on this current six-game homestand. They are second in the Pacific Division, three points behind first-place Anaheim.
Forward Patrick Maroon registered his 18th goal of the season on Jan. 14 vs. Calgary, adding to his career best, which was 12 prior to 2016-17. It was his seventh goal in seven games since the start of 2017, more than any other NHL player.
With 18 goals, the St. Louis native leads the Oilers and is tied with McDavid for the best plus-minus rating at +12. His 16 even-strength goals ranks him tied for fourth overall in the NHL.
In 61 games since joining Edmonton in a trade, Maroon has 39 points (26G, 13A), averaging 0.64 points a game. Prior to joining the Oilers, he had been averaging 0.38 points a game.
The Oilers rank among the NHL leaders in the following categories:
53 points (23-13-7) -ninth in the NHL 125 goals scored - tenth in the NHL 1428 shots on goal - fourth in the NHL 31.7 shots on goal per game - tied for fourth in the NHL 1108 hits - fifth in the NHL
Coyotes team scope:
After dropping six straight games (0-5-1), the Coyotes won two in a row before dropping a 3-0 decision to Anaheim this past Saturday.
Radim Vrbata (4-7-11) leads the team in road scoring this season. Luke Schenn is 3rd among NHL blueliners and 5th in the League with 140 hits. ... Lawson Crouse is 2nd among all NHL rookies with 92 hits. ... Brendan Perlini's 19.4 shooting % ranks 1st among NHL rookies that have skated in 17 games or more.
The Coyotes are 5-1-0 when Jamie McGinn scores a goal this season. ... Mike Smith is 4-0-2 when saving 40 or more shots in a game. ... Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jordan Martinook lead the team with 6 road goals. ... The Coyotes are 8-0-2 when leading after 2 periods this season and 179-13-16 under head coach Dave Tippett
Oliver Ekman-Larsson has points in 5 of his last 6 games vs. EDM (2-7-9). ... Mike Smith is 15-2-1 with a .926 SV% and 2.28 GAA in 20 career games vs. EDM. ... The Coyotes are 26-3-4 against the Oilers under Dave Tippett.