Oilers riding high upon visit to slumping Coyotes

NHL Hockey
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The Edmonton Oilers take the ice in Glendale, Ariz., Tuesday night with a 7-1-1 record in their last nine games, as well as a Western Conference-leading 15 wins away from home.

They’re also riding high after an 8-3 pounding of their longtime rival Calgary Flames on Saturday night.

The game in Calgary was so intense — the Oilers lead the Flames by just two points in the Pacific Division — that 102 combined penalty minutes were served and both teams’ goaltenders fought, leading to game misconducts early in the second period.

In the end, Edmonton earned a blowout win, with Connor McDavid scoring two goals and Leon Draisatl logging four assists on a night the Oilers tallied 49 shots.

“Those are fun games to play in,” goaltender Mike Smith, who was ejected, told NHL.com. “Not with all the fighting and stuff, obviously, that’s part of it, but just high-intensity hockey. Especially the end of January, early February, you’re playing important games. Those are important points for our team.”

The Oilers players are racking up big numbers this season. Draisatl is the first Oilers player to reach 80 points in 52 games or fewer since Mark Messier in 1989-1990, when Messier had 81 points in 50 games.

McDavid has 15 points — seven goals and eight assists — in the past nine games. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins has five goals and seven assists during an eight-game point streak and 17 points in the past 11 games.

“We stuck together. We got a big win against a good hockey team and kept moving up in the standings,” Smith said.

The Coyotes are trying to stick together, too, through struggles of late. Arizona has lost back-to-back overtime games as part of a five-game losing streak, and its hold on a wild-card spot is precarious.

Arizona got a heroic 42-save night in goal from Antti Raanta — who made the save of the season for his team when he kicked up his skates while on his stomach for a scorpion save — in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at home Saturday.

“That’s all you can ask, is for a goalie to battle,” coach Rick Tocchet said.

Chicago scored on its first two shootout chances and the Coyotes missed both attempts to end the game.

While the Coyotes are 1-5-3 in their last nine games, they’ve earned at least a point in seven straight home games (4-0-3).

“Obviously stinks the way it ended,” said forward Conor Garland, who scored his team-leading 17th goal of the season Saturday. “It could have gone either way. We just really want to find a way to get that next one.”

The Oilers come to town next.

When last the two teams met Jan. 18 in Alberta, the Oilers rolled to a 7-3 win. That night, McDavid scored two goals and Riley Sheahan scored a goal with three assists. Raanta allowed six goals on 18 shots and was pulled after two periods.

–Field Level Media

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