By Dave Vest GLENDALE – The Coyotes will begin the final week of play before the NHL breaks for the Winter Olympics with a game tonight against the Edmonton Oilers at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (35-19-5) will enter the game in fifth place in the Western Conference standings.
Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to start in goal for the Coyotes, who have scored just one goal in regulation in their past three games. Despite that drought, Phoenix won two of those three games via shootouts.
Click here to listen the Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett's pre-game remarks.
Both teams failed to score a goal in the games they played on Saturday. Dallas blanked the Coyotes 4-0, while Colorado blanked Edmonton 3-0.
The Oilers (18-33-6) are having a forgettable season. No team in the NHL has fewer wins (18), road wins (seven) or points (42) than Edmonton, which has scored a league-low 142 goals.
Injuries have crippled the Oilers. They have lost an astounding 324 man games to injury this season.
Edmonton is hoping injured defensemen Sheldon Souray (hand) and Ladislav Smid (concussion) will return to the lineup tonight.
Right wing Dustin Penner is leading the Oilers in goals (22) and assists (23).
Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin has scored the game-deciding shootout goal in Phoenix's last two victories, including Friday night vs. the Blackhawks in Chicago.
Oilers goalie Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers is 2-2-0 in his past four starts and has stopped 137 of the 145 shots he has faced. That's a .945 save percentage.
Tonight's game is the first of four in six days for the Coyotes leading up to the NHL break for the Winter Olympics.
Edmonton has won four of the past five games it has played at Jobing.com Arena and has outscored Phoenix 17-10 in those games.
Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata, who co-leads the team with 18 goals, will play in his 500th NHL game tonight (see PODCASTS below).
Listen to Coyotes forward Radim Vrbata discuss playing in his 500th NHL game tonight.