National Hockey League
Oilers-Coyotes Preview
National Hockey League

Oilers-Coyotes Preview

Updated Mar. 5, 2020 12:25 a.m. ET

Though the playoffs appear to be a longshot, Mike Smith isn't willing to give up the fight.

The veteran goaltender has been solid since returning from an extended absence, but his effort won't matter unless the Arizona Coyotes can find a way to put the puck in the net.

With Smith expected to get a chance to extend his dominance in this series, the Coyotes will go after their 24th win in the past 29 meetings with the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.

Arizona (31-34-7) would need an unlikely turn of events to secure its first postseason berth since reaching the Western Conference finals in 2011-12. After going 9-18-3 in its last 30, the club has fallen 11 points back of the final wild-card spot with 10 games remaining.


The Coyotes received a nice bump when Smith returned for the first time since undergoing core muscle surgery in December. They won the last two of a three-game winning streak with Smith between the pipes before he got the night off in Saturday's 2-0 home loss to Tampa Bay.

Smith then had 33 saves Sunday when Arizona was blanked for the second straight game in a 3-0 loss at San Jose. The 10th-year pro has stopped 104 of 107 shots in his three games back.

"For the rest of the season I'll keep pushing forward," Smith told the team's official website. "We're definitely doing some good things but we've got to find ways to win these games."

The Coyotes will have to find a way to avoid getting shut out in three straight for the first time since March 2013 to get that done. It doesn't help that Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has a team-high 49 points, is uncertain to play after missing six games with a shoulder injury.

Arizona, however, might not need much scoring as Smith looks to extend a 14-game streak (12-0-1) with at least one point earned against the Oilers that's tied for the league's second-longest active run for a goalie versus any opponent. He owns a 2.14 goals-against average over that span after finishing with 44 saves in a 4-0 win at Edmonton on March 12.

Arizona is 3-0-1 in the season series and 23-1-4 in 28 meetings since January 2010.

The Coyotes have totaled seven goals in two games against Cam Talbot this season. Edmonton's goalie, though, has posted a 1.66 GAA in winning seven of his past nine starts and has allowed three goals with a .978 save percentage over a four-game road winning streak.

Talbot is likely to get the nod after Laurent Brossoit had 22 saves in Sunday's 3-2 home loss to Colorado that snapped a two-game winning streak. Matt Hendricks and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored, while star rookie Connor McDavid had his fifth assist in four games.

Edmonton (29-39-7), which has won seven of 12, is trying to avoid finishing at the bottom of the conference with a one-point edge over Winnipeg.

''We may not be a playoff team, but we have playoff fans,'' coach Todd McLellan said. ''At some point, we have to reward them.''

McLellan's club will have to contain Max Domi, who has four goals and two assists in the season series. Ekman-Larsson has four goals and seven points over his last six meetings.


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