The Oilers look to avoid a third consecutive loss while trying for a sixth straight home victory over the Coyotes on Tuesday night.
Edmonton (16-22-4) has lost nine of 10 and sits in last place in the Western Conference with 36 points. The Oilers have been outscored 38-17 during that span and are 1-6-1 at home since Nov. 24, struggles that prompted coach Pat Quinn to call his team “dumb” after a 2-1 loss at Calgary on Thursday.
Despite all that’s gone wrong for the Oilers of late, Quinn is confident his club can bounce back and salvage the season.
“Hopefully we can still take the little steps here,” Quinn said. “At least we have to try. I still believe we can get this thing turned around.”
Edmonton can start with this contest. Though Phoenix (25-14-4) is fourth in the West and one of the league’s biggest surprises, the Coyotes have lost eight of nine to the Oilers after falling 4-0 at Edmonton on Nov. 23. Phoenix hasn’t beaten the Oilers at Rexall Place since Feb. 27, 2007.
Ending that drought could be a challenge if leading goal-scorer Scottie Upshall(notes) is unable to play after suffering an upper-body injury in a 4-1 loss to Detroit on Saturday - the Coyotes’ third loss in four games (1-1-2). Upshall, who has scored 14 goals to come within one of matching his career high from last season, did not practice Monday.
Still, the Oilers must play better than they have of late to continue their home dominance over the Coyotes.
“It’s been a tough road, especially the last two or three weeks we’ve been in tough and it seems like everyone’s a little tense,” forward Gilbert Brule(notes) told the Oilers’ official Web site. “We need to stick with our system and believe in what we’re doing and believe in the coaches and what they’re trying to implement.”
Jeff Deslauriers made 36 saves for his first career shutout in his first appearance against Phoenix earlier this season, but he has a 3.25 goals-against average while losing eight of his last nine starts in place of the injured Nikolai Khabibulin(notes).
Deslauriers is 9-12-2 with a 2.86 GAA on the season.
With a 22-11-4 record and 2.03 GAA, Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) has been a big reason for the Coyotes’ success, but he’s looking to end a three-game losing streak. Bryzgalov is 2-5-0 with a 3.97 GAA against the Oilers after making 21 saves in the November loss.
“The guys had some good energy and then we just got away from doing the little things,” Lombardi told the Coyotes’ official Web site.
Lombardi has a goal and an assist in his last two games and two goals and an assist in his last three against Edmonton.