(Sports Network) - The Edmonton Oilers are looking to take advantage of a
home-heavy finish to the regular season in an effort to snap a six-year
Six of nine on the road to wrap the season could keep the Phoenix Coyotes out
of the postseason for the first time in four years.
The two playoff hopefuls meet on Wednesday night in Edmonton with a chance to
cut into their deficit for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western
Phoenix stands 11th overall in the conference with 40 points, three back of
the eighth-place Detroit Red Wings with nine games to play. Edmonton also has
nine left on its schedule and is a point behind the Coyotes in the standings.
Detroit is idle on Wednesday.
The Oilers begin a three-game homestand with Wednesday's clash against the
Coyotes and seven of their final nine are at Rexall Place, where the club is
8-5-4 on the season.
Phoenix, meanwhile, kicked off a three-game road trip with a loss on Monday in
Vancouver and the swing ends on Friday in Calgary. Following a home game with
San Jose, Phoenix will play another three on the road, return home for two and
then conclude the regular season in Anaheim.
That stretch could keep the Coyotes out of the playoffs given that they are
4-9-5 as the road team this season. They lost for the eighth time in their
past nine on the road with Monday's 2-0 setback at the Vancouver Canucks.
Mike Smith was solid with 40 saves, but Phoenix was shut out for the sixth
time this season. Smith was coming off a 2-0 shutout win over the Colorado
Avalanche on Saturday, his first game in action in seven contests after
missing time due to injury.
"I thought we pushed back in the third and really got it going," said Smith.
"But I think we just didn't do enough to create chances and put the puck in
The consequence was Phoenix having a three-game winning streak snapped and the
club had been 4-0-1 in its previous five.
Edmonton put itself in playoff contention with a five-game win streak from
March 26-April 3, but has been outscored 10-2 over a three-game losing streak.
The Oilers concluded a four-game swing on Monday with a 2-1 loss in Anaheim.
Nick Schultz snapped a 58-game goal drought, but Devan Dubnyk gave up both
goals on 38 shots in the setback.
Edmonton kept Anaheim scoreless on its five power-play chances, but has been
shorthanded 15 times over its losing streak.
"We needed some momentum I think. If we had scored earlier, maybe it would
have helped in that regard," said Schultz following the loss to the Ducks.
"For some reason, these last few games, we're taking way more penalties than
we have in the past. We're killing (penalties) too much, killing the momentum
and speed of our team. We need to be more disciplined and make sure we're not
killing ourselves that way."
The Coyotes swept the four-game season series in 2011-12, but the Oilers have
the chance to return the favor tonight after taking the first two of three
meetings this season. Both wins did come after regulation and Edmonton escaped
with a 3-2 shootout victory at home in the last encounter on Feb. 23.
That win snapped a five-game series home losing streak for the Oilers, who
have still lost 10 of the previous 13 matchups overall.
The Sports Network