Preview: Coyotes at Oilers, 6:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
EDMONTON, Alberta — The Edmonton Oilers have suddenly gone cold offensively. The Arizona Coyotes are playing their best hockey of the season.
It’s under those hopeful conditions that the Coyotes hope to secure their second road win in two nights against a team with playoff aspirations.
Following Monday night’s 5-0 victory in Calgary — Arizona’s first in five games vs. the Flames this year — the Coyotes have moved on to Edmonton to take on the Oilers.
The Oilers have scored just twice in the last four games — and have lost three of those contests. Their only win in that stretch came in a shootout at Montreal after the teams skated to a 0-0 stalemate through regulation and overtime.
The issue with the Oilers isn’t the top line of Patrick Maroon, NHL assist leader Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who is the only Oiler to crack the 20-goal barrier. It’s the other three lines, which aren’t providing any sort of secondary scoring. You have to go all the way back to Jan. 31 to find the most recent goal scored from outside of the top line, and that came from defenseman Oscar Klefbom.
Oilers coach Todd McLellan promised he will tinker with the power-play units, and he will break up his top threesome in order to try to spread what little scoring he has throughout his team. He had the three separated in practice Monday.
“When your five-on-five scoring goes dry, you need your power play to perform,” said McLellan after practice Monday as his team licked its wounds from a 5-1 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday. “Right now, they’ve both gone dry. Not only do we have to improve power-play wise, but obviously creating opportunities five-on-five.
“We can’t rely on one line, hence the changes. We need to find a spark from an unsuspecting source, and even some guys we expect it from. They have to pick their games up a little bit.”
Draisaitl said, “You have to have guys going at this point, teams are trying to make the playoffs. Games are getting tighter and tighter. We need to have balanced scoring, and hopefully we can have that (Tuesday).”
The game marks the fifth and final time the Oilers and Coyotes will meet in the regular season. Each team has won twice so far.
While the Oilers remain entrenched in the race for the Pacific Division title despite the recent slump, the Coyotes continue in their role of spoiler. Monday night’s win in Calgary gave then a 6-2-1 record over their last nin games.
“We’ve got a stretch of games against teams that are either in the playoffs or battling for the playoffs, they’re real competitive games,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “They’ll be good challenges for our group.”
Coyotes captain Shane Doan added, “Obviously, the situation we’re in is a tough one. We’ve got to find ways to worry about getting better every day, and that’s really our focus.”
Christian Dvorak had two goals and an assist in Monday’s victory, giving him five goals and two assists in his past five games. Martin Hanzal also scored on Monday to take over the team lead with 13 goals.
Draisaitl has 20 goals to lead Edmonton, while McDavid has 18 goals to go with 43 assists.