By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to extend their winning streak to five games and their point streak to 11 games today when they play the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. The puck drops at 2 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix (31-21-9) will enter the rare matinee in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, but tied with Pacific Division leading San Jose with 71 points. That’s mainly because the Coyotes have posted a 9-0-1 record in February.
"We're all smiles and happy right now because we keep finding ways to win," captain Shane Doan
said. "It might not be pretty and it might not be the way coaches have it drawn up at the beginning, but we've found ways to come back. It gives us a belief system in your game that you know you can do it."
Today’s matinee is the third of four games between these teams this season. The Coyotes won the first two matches by a score of 4-2 in each game – both played at Jobing.com Arena. Eight players have scored a goal for the Coyotes in the first two games.
, who has won a career-high nine games in a row, is expected to start in goal for Phoenix. Smith is 2-1-0-0 vs. Edmonton is his career with a 3.01 goals-against average.
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to listen to Smith answer questions on "NHL Home Ice."
Phoenix keeps winning despite multiple injuries. Regulars Kyle Chipchura
, Rostislav Klesla
, Gilbert Brule
, David Schlemko
and Derek Morris (family illness), all are on the sidelines during this critical stretch.
The Coyotes last played on Thursday when they rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Calgary Flames, 4-3, in a shootout. Winger Ray Whitney
, who as a child worked as an Edmonton Oilers stick kid, was the hero of Thursday’s game with a goal in regulation and the lone shootout goal. Whitney, who turns 40 in May, leads the Coyotes with 56 points. The Edmonton-area native has 11 points in six games against the Oilers dating to last season.
Edmonton (24-30-6) will enter the game with a two-game winning streak, including a 2-0 blanking of Philadelphia on home ice on Thursday.
Devan Dubnyk, who has been playing in place of injured starter Nikolai Khabibulin, stopped all 35 shots he faced vs. the Flyers, and 56 of 57 shots during the team’s modest win streak.
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Oilers are expecting rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who hasn’t played since Feb. 6 because of a shoulder injury, to be back in the lineup for this game. Despite missing the past seven games, Nugent-Hopkins stills ranks fifth on the team and second in the NHL in points among freshmen with 35.
Oilers Head Coach Tom Renney also is expected to be back in action after missing five games with concussion symptons. Renney was injured earlier this month when he was hit in the head with a puck during a practice.
Center Sam Gagner was the talk of the League not too long ago when he notched an eight-point game against the Blackhawks on Feb. 12. However, Gagner has been held point-less in three of the team’s past four games.
Center Eric Belanger, who signed with the Oilers after one season with the Coyotes, ranks seventh in the NHL in faceoff percentage at 57.4.