Oilers seek more points, season sweep of Coyotes
With regular-season games dwindling and the chances of winning the Pacific Division slipping away, the Edmonton Oilers still are fighting for every point.
Occupying third place in the division, Edmonton will try to stretch its point streak to seven games Monday night when it travels to Tempe, Ariz., to face the Arizona Coyotes.
The Western Conference clash will conclude the season series between the clubs.
Edmonton (41-23-9, 91 points) won the first two meetings, trouncing Arizona 8-2 in Canada on Dec. 7 in the Oilers' highest goal-producing game this season.
And in Edmonton last Wednesday, the Oilers grabbed a 4-3 overtime victory over the Coyotes, clinching two points on Connor McDavid's game-winning tally.
On Saturday night, against the Pacific-leading Vegas Golden Knights, the Oilers rallied three times to tie the game and force overtime, but a defensive lapse left Nicolas Roy open in front of goaltender Stuart Skinner for the winner.
That 4-3 defeat damaged Edmonton's hopes of claiming the division. A win in regulation would have left coach Jay Woodcroft's group just four points behind Vegas, but that gap grew to an almost insurmountable seven.
The Oilers entered the game riding a five-game winning streak, and the point did allow them to stay close to the second-place Los Angeles Kings, who are their likely matchup in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Although Woodcroft has said he doesn't pay attention to the standings, Oilers top-line forward Zach Hyman -- who scored his career-high 31st goal -- said everyone is aware of them.
"To be honest, yeah, you look at the standings, for sure," Hyman said during a Sportsnet intermission interview. "But the most important (thing) is how you're playing. You want to be playing well going to the playoffs, and you want to be feeling good about yourself and your team.
"It doesn't matter if you're one, two or three. ... You just want to be playing well."
In a home-and-home set with the Colorado Avalanche over the weekend, the Coyotes (27-34-13, 67 points) lost 3-1 Friday in Denver and fell 4-3 Sunday afternoon at home in a shootout.
In the latter matchup, Arizona rallied from 2-0 and 3-2 third-period deficits to send the game to overtime.
In the bottom of the seventh round, Colorado's Valeri Nichushkin - who was 0-for-1 in his career in the one-on-one competition -- deked around goalie Connor Ingram for the shootout's only tally.
By earning a point, the Coyotes stretched their home point streak to eight games (6-0-2).
For Arizona, Matias Maccelli, Christian Fischer and Clayton Keller scored goals while defenseman Michael Kesselring managed his first NHL point with an assist.
Keller became the first player in the franchise to reach 80 points (36 goals, 44 assists) since Keith Tkachuk notched 86 in the 1996-97 campaign -- the then-Phoenix Coyotes' inaugural season.
"My teammates and coaching staff have done such a tremendous job with me coming in a little bit slower," said Keller, who suffered a leg fracture in March 2022. "It's cool to be in the same conversation with (Tkachuk). He was a big part of my youth hockey and such an unbelievable captain and person."
Fourth-line right winger Brett Ritchie (illness) became sick before the match and didn't play, and Arizona iced 11 forwards in the setback.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 27, 2023