Season series: This is the second of three meetings this season between the two clubs. In the opener on Jan. 30, Nail Yakupov scored the game-winner with a power-play goal 3:52 into overtime and Devan Dubnyk made 27 saves to lead the Oilers to a 2-1 victory. Edmonton went 0-3-1 against Phoenix in 2011-12.
Big story: The Coyotes are 6-2-2 in their past 10 games but haven't played since Monday. Still, Phoenix remains in the playoff picture one-third of the way through the season. ... After opening the season 4-2-0, the Oilers have only won two of their last 10 games to fall to 13th in the Western Conference standings with 15 points -- three behind eighth-seeded Minnesota.
Coyotes: After opening the season with four losses in five games, the Coyotes have notched points in nine of the past 11 games to move into seventh place in the Western Conference with 18 points. The scoring has been spread across the board with Radim Vrbata (four goals) leading the way with 12 points. Forwards Martin Hanzal and Mikkel Boedker and defensemen Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Keith Yandle each have 10 points.
This is the first game of a three-game for the Coyotes through western Canada. Phoenix has posted an 11-6-1 record at Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver under Head Coach Dave Tippett.
"The players are always excited to go back and play in western Canada," Tippett said. "We’ve got a lot of players from there so it’s always a little extra exciting for them.”
The Coyotes are expecting center Matthew Lombardi to return to the lineup on thei strip, perhaps as early as today. Lombardi has missed the past 12 games because of an upper-body injury.
“We think he can be a valuable piece for us,” Tippett said. “He’s a pretty driven guy right now. He’s just got to get out there and get himself feeling comfortable. It’s just all about playing right now. The mental preparation in his head has been gone over and over.”
Note: CLICK HERE TO WATCH LOMBARDI DISCUSS RETURNING TO LINEUP.
Oilers: The Oilers lost to the Minnesota Wild for the 11th time in the past 13 meetings on Thursday at Rexall Place. Ryan Smyth scored his first goal in six games for the Oilers to give the home team a 1-0 lead, but the Wild scored the next three. Edmonton's Taylor Hall ended any hope of an Oilers comeback when he was given a five-minute penalty - and a subsequent two-game suspension - for kneeing and a game misconduct for an open-ice collision with Cal Clutterbuck with 2:33 to go.
Who's hot: Since returning from injury on Feb. 1, Coyotes goalie Mike Smith has notched three shutouts, posted a 2.08 goals-against average and a .930 saves percentage. Over that nine-game stretch, the Coyotes have posted points in seven games he has started.
Injury report: Phoenix could have two players returning to its lineup, forwards Radim Vrbata (lower body) and Matthew Lombardi (upper body). Defenseman Derek Morris (upper body) will not play. ...The Oilers are without forwards Anton Lander (foot), Ryan Jones (eye) and Shawn Horcoff (hand) and defenseman Andy Sutton (knee).
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