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Preview: Oilers at Coyotes

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 1:49 AM

NHL.com | Dave Vest

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Preview: Oilers at Coyotes
Edmonton Oilers vs. Phoenix Coyotes

Season series: This is the first of three meetings this season between the two clubs. Edmonton didn’t fare too well against Phoenix last season, going 0-3-1 against the eventual Pacific Division champions.

Big story: The Coyotes are in the middle of a period that will see them play six of seven games at home. They're hoping to move on from a slow start to their season following a 4-0 win over Nashville on Monday night. ... Entering a run that will see them play five of their next seven contests on the road, the Oilers are looking to build on their hot play of late.

Note: CLICK HERE TO WATCH A PREVIEW OF TONIGHT'S GAME

Team Scope:

Coyotes: After starting the season 1-4-0, the Coyotes went with a change in net on Monday night against Nashville, as Chad Johnson saw his first NHL action since March 31, 2011, when he replaced Henrik Lundqvist in a 6-2 Rangers loss to the Islanders. Necessitated by the recent injury to starter Mike Smith, Johnson got his first NHL start since Jan. 31, 2010 and stopped all 21 shots he faced on his way to his first career shutout.

After slumping early on this season, Phoenix made sure to give Johnson an early lead, with Antoine Vermette opening the scoring just three minutes into the match. Keith Yandle provided a goal and two assists to break out of a three-game pointless slump to give the Coyotes an important win.

Johnson will be back in Phoenix's net again tonight.

"He was sound in what he was doing (on Monday), so we'll go back with him tonight and see if we get the same response from our team and the same response from Chad," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said after today's morning skate.

Meanwhile, Tippett said center Martin Hanzal, who missed Monday's game because of a lower-body injury, is "questionable" for tonight's game.

Oilers:
While the young Oilers appear to still be learning how to harness their talent to produce wins, there aren't many teams in the NHL who are as exciting to watch. That's particularly true of their power play, which is scoring at a 35.7 percent clip, the second-highest rate in the League.

That unit was on full display Monday night against Colorado as the Oilers scored all four of their goals with the man advantage on their way to a 4-1 win.

But the Edmonton power play wasn't the sole reason for the victory. Goaltender Devan Dubnyk had one of his best outings of the young season, stopping 37 of 38 shots against an Avalanche team that had won two of its previous three games.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson

"Our power play was clicking," said Jordan Eberle, who is one of four Oilers players with two power-play goals this season. "We were a little hesitant five-on-five and are struggling a bit, but when your power play is clicking, it helps a lot."

Who's hot: Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson has helped to pace the Coyotes attack, registering five points in his last four games. Winger Lauri Korpikoski also has two goals in his last three contests. ... The Oilers' offense has been led by Taylor Hall, who has a point in every game so far this season and leads the team with seven. Eberle has goals in consecutive games and leads the team with three.

Injury report: Smith, who is on IR with a lower-body injury, is the main absentee Coyote, but the team is also missing Matthew Lombardi (upper body) and Rostislav Klesla (lower body) as well as Raffi Torres, who is still serving a suspension. ... Edmonton has numerous players on IR, including Ben Eager (concussion), Ryan Jones (eye), Theo Peckham (hip), Nikolai Khabibulin (hip) and Andy Sutton (knee).

2012-2013 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 10 '13PHX 3 at EDM 1A. Vermette
Feb 23 '13PHX 2 at EDM 3 - SOS. Gagner
Jan 30 '13EDM 2 at PHX 1 - OTN. Yakupov
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
T. Hall6178+3400
S. Gagner6257-2811
J. Eberle6336+1221
J. Schultz6235+1020
N. Yakupov6404-4031
R. Nugent-Hopkins6044+1200
A. Hemsky6213-3620
R. Whitney6033-3400
S. Horcoff6112-1410
L. Petrell6101-1200
R. Smyth6011+0400
L. Smid6011-22500
T. Hartikainen5011-1000
E. Belanger6000+0600
J. Petry6000-1400
N. Schultz6000-3200
M. Paajarvi5000-3000
C. Potter4000-4200
M. Fistric2000+0200
B. Eager1000+0500
D. Hordichuk1000-1200
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
D. Dubnyk64-2-0151782.74.916
Y. Danis10-0-00140.001.000
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
R. Vrbata7257-1410
S. Sullivan6415-3420
A. Vermette7325+2411
O. Ekman-Larsson7235-2401
K. Yandle7145+41010
M. Boedker7145+3210
L. Korpikoski7314-2210
S. Doan7224-11300
D. Moss7134-1000
D. Morris7044+21000
N. Johnson3213+2010
B. Gordon7033-2200
M. Hanzal3112-2000
D. Schlemko6022+0200
M. Lombardi4022+0000
Z. Michalek7000+0200
K. Chipchura7000+01000
A. Bolduc6000-2200
P. Bissonnette5000+1500
M. Stone4000-4200
D. Rundblad3000-1000
R. Klesla2000-3000
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
J. LaBarbera31-2-09873.25.897
C. Johnson21-0-12420.98.952
M. Smith30-2-010614.62.836
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