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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

    NHL News: Oilers aim to pick on road-struggling Coyotes

    The Edmonton Oilers will take a four-game winning streak into their Wednesday night home game against the team with the worst road record in the NHL, the Arizona Coyotes.

    The Oilers (40-23-8, 88 points) hold a three-point lead over the Seattle Kraken (39-24-7, 85 points) for third place in a jam-packed Pacific Division with 11 games to go. Edmonton is entering the second game of a three-game homestand that will conclude Saturday with a showdown against the first-place Vegas Golden Knights (44-21-6, 94 points).

    Edmonton, which 8-2-0 in its past 10 games and a blistering 19-5-5 over its past 29 contests, will play the Golden Knights twice in a four-day span in a home-and-home and also has a home-and-home remaining with the second-place Los Angeles Kings (41-20-10, 92 points).

    The battle for a top-two division finish and home ice in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs has taken a little — just a little — of the spotlight away from a storybook season for Connor McDavid. With 136 points and 58 goals, the Oilers’ center is running away with the league’s point-scoring and goal-scoring titles.

    “We’re trying to finish as high as we can, we’re trying to gain as many points as we can, but probably most importantly … we want to make sure our game is in the right place,” Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We want to make sure we’re using these last 11 dress rehearsals in the right manner so that we’re ready when Game 83 (the first game of the playoffs) hits.

    “We’re not going to be perfect, but we hope to capture learning moments and improve and get better so that we are ready for Game 83.”

    The Oilers come in off a 5-4 overtime victory over the San Jose Sharks on Monday. Mattias Ekholm scored twice, including the tying goal with 3:47 left in regulation, and defenseman Darnell Nurse scored the game-winner on a breakaway with 15 seconds left in overtime.

    “The guys are always joking in here that I get quite a few (breakaways) and never score,” Nurse said. “That feels like the first one in a while.”

    Nurse’s game-winner came on Edmonton’s 52nd shot on goal to spoil an excellent goaltending performance by San Jose’s James Reimer, who finished with 47 saves.

    “I liked our willingness to win and our ability to find a way to win when an (opposing) goaltender was having a great night,” Woodcroft said.

    Arizona (27-33-11, 65 points) will play the second game of a back-to-back set that began with a 2-1 road loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

    Connor Hellebuyck made 29 saves for the Jets, who snapped Arizona’s eight-game point streak (6-0-2) and four-game winning streak. It was the Coyotes’ first regulation loss since March 3.

    Barrett Hayton scored his 15th goal of the season and also extended his personal point streak to eight games for Arizona, which is a league-worst 7-22-8 away from home this season.

    “That was a really good stretch of hockey for us,” Hayton said. “Coming out of the (trade) deadline, we really wanted to focus on our attitude and being able to turn the page quick.”

    Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said, “We played with pace, we were hard on the puck carrier, we tracked hard, we moved the puck quick, and we attacked quick. I think we played a really good game.”

    –Field Level Media


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