OILERS (3-7-1) at COYOTES (6-3-2)
TV: SNET-W, FS-A
Last 10: Edmonton 3-6-1; Phoenix 5-3-2
Season series: This is the first of five meetings between the Edmonton Oilers and Phoenix Coyotes, new rivals in the Pacific Division. Each team won once in its opponent's building, with the Oilers taking two of three overall. Nail Yakupov led all players with two goals, including a power-play goal in overtime of Edmonton's 2-1 win in Phoenix on Jan. 30.
Big story: YThe Coyotes are 5-1-1 at home and 11-2-2 overall vs. Edmonton under Head Coach Dave Tippett, and they have notched at least one point in eight consecutive games vs. the Oilers.
Coyotes: A stretch of seven straight games with a point (5-0-2) ended for Phoenix on Thursday in Los Angeles, but the Coyotes sure didn't go down without a fight.
The Kings blitzed them for four first-period goals only to see the Coyotes come all the way back as Jeff Halpern and Martin Hanzal scored in the second, and then Hanzal and Shane Doan lit the lamp 59 seconds apart early in the third. But the Coyotes ran out of gas after that and the Kings recovered to deal them a 7-4 loss.
"It looks like our season, where we can be so good at times and then we can be so bad at times," Doan said. "As leaders, we've got to talk and we've got to stick to what's fundamentally working for us because that's really what our games is -- keeping it simple and doing things right, the way that we know to, instead of trying to get off our own page."
Phoenix has fared well in afternoon games since the 2000 season as it owns a 21-15-5 record in 41 afternoon contests in that span.
Goalie Mike Smith is 5-1-1 with a 2.17 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage in eight career games vs. Edmonton.
Defenseman Zbynek Michalek leads the team and ranks tied for second in the League with 29 blocked shots in 11 games.
Oilers: Edmonton has won two straight road games as it heads out for a brief weekend swing at Phoenix and the Los Angeles Kings.
Forward Nail Yakupov had five goals and two assists in the first nine games of his rookie season en route to topping all first-year players in goals (17) and tying for the most points (31).
As the Oilers scuffle through the opening month of the 2013-14 season, Yakupov seems to have hit the dreaded sophomore slump. He has no goals and one assist in nine games this time around and has been a healthy scratch twice.
Former Coyotes goalie Jason LaBarbera is expected to start for the Oilers.
"It will be interesting to see him on the other side," Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata said. "He'd been here for a number of years, so everybody is a good friend with him (but) for those 60 minutes, it doesn't matter. You have to find two points."
Who's hot: For Phoenix, Hanzal has three goals in as many games, Keith Yandle has four assists in the past two games, and Vrbata has a goal and two assists in the past two games.
Injury report: Phoenix forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) is on injured reserve. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla, who suffered a lower-body injury early in Thursday's game, also will not play... Edmonton defenseman Corey Potter (back) has been sent to Oklahoma City of the American Hockey League on a conditioning assignment. Forwards Ryan Hamilton (knee), Steve MacIntyre (knee), Sam Gagner (jaw), Jesse Joensuu (back), Taylor Hall (knee) and Ryan Smyth (groin) are all out.
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