Fatigued Coyotes, Oilers meet in Saturday matinee
Coaches Dave Tippett of the Coyotes and Dallas Eakins of the Oilers are concerned about their teams being fatigued. It doesn't help that the two clubs face an early start time Saturday in Glendale in a Pacific Division matchup that has been mostly dominated by the Coyotes in recent seasons.
Phoenix (6-3-2) fell behind by four goals after one period in a 7-4 loss in Los Angeles on Thursday. The Coyotes rallied to tie it in the third but allowed their highest goal total of the season.
"I was worried about our energy before we came into the game," Tippett said. "The last couple of days, I don't know if it was physical or mental fatigue, but you could tell our group was dragging a little bit.
"We tried to give them a day off yesterday, but obviously we came out flat tonight, but we're going to have to regain some energy tomorrow and get ready for Saturday."
Edmonton (3-7-1) returned home from a 2-3-1 trip against the Eastern Conference and lost 4-1 to Washington on Thursday. The Oilers now return to the road for back-to-back games, as they'll visit the Kings on Sunday.
"It's an interesting trip," Eakins said. "My luggage is still sitting on my bed open and unpacked."
The coach said he has not been able to practice the team much and will use a short session Friday to try to fix a power play that is 0 for 19 over the last six games.
"We'll just do some power play probably, cover some stuff out there and call it a day and get rested," Eakins said. "We've got to play at noon in Phoenix."
The Coyotes have gone 11-1-2 in the last 14 meetings in the series, with 12 of those decided by one or two goals. Edmonton beat Phoenix in overtime and in a shootout last season before the Coyotes took the third and final meeting 3-1 on April 10.
Phoenix will be short-handed in this one, though, as defenseman Rostislav Klesla will be unavailable after he left Thursday's contest with a lower-body injury. His absence was clearly felt.
"You lose a defenseman early in the game and you got five guys that have a heavy workload, especially when you're chasing the game," Tippett said. "It's a lot of work for five guys."
Martin Hanzal scored twice, and Shane Doan's goal with 17:10 left in the third tied it, but the Coyotes allowed a short-handed tally 1:29 later to fall behind for good.
"The system that we play, it works when we do it, and when we get outside of it, we can look pretty bad," Doan said.
The Oilers need more from their top line of Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, as each player finished at minus-4 against the Capitals. Yakupov, who had 17 goals in 48 games as a rookie last season, has yet to score.
"I thought we had some good offensive-zone play until that third period," Eakins said. "I really believe they were trying to step on the gas; there was just no gas left."