West Coast Hockey: Edmonton at Phoenix
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The Edmonton Oilers have been perfect at home this season. Playing on the road, though, has been another story.
The Oilers look to shake their road struggles Thursday when they visit the lowly Phoenix Coyotes at the newly renamed Jobing.com Arena.
Edmonton (6-3-0) had a three-game winning streak end with a 6-2 loss at Anaheim on Wednesday, its third loss in four road games.
The early season road struggles are a sharp contrast to last season for the Oilers, who had the sixth-best road record at 21-13-7 in 2005-06 and are 5-0-0 at home this season.
Dwayne Roloson saved just 14 of 20 shots, after stopping 54 of 57 in winning his last two games.
“We had quite a few breakdowns in front of Rollie. We turned the puck over a lot and self-destructed a bit,” Edmonton coach Craig MacTavish said. “You want to play a good structured organized game, but we got away from that.”
Roloson is 5-3 with a 2.64 goals-against average this season, but 1-3 with a 3.28 GAA on the road.
Roloson made 28 saves in the Oilers’ 5-2 victory Monday over the Coyotes (2-8-0), and is 6-7 with two ties and a 2.47 GAA lifetime against Phoenix.
Center Jarret Stoll, who scored a career-high 22 goals last season, may have finally broken out of his early season-scoring drought. Stoll had both of Edmonton’s goals Wednesday after scoring his first goal of the season Monday.
Right wing Petr Sykora leads the Oilers with 13 points, and had a goal and three assists against Phoenix earlier this week. Sykora has four goals and seven assists in his last eight games against the Coyotes.
The Oilers have won three straight over Phoenix, and six of their last eight. They also have gotten at least one point in their last 11 meetings.
This is not good news for Phoenix, which has lost its four in a row and is in last place in the Western Conference. The Coyotes, who lost to Calgary 6-1 on Tuesday, have been outscored 19-3 during their skid.
“I think we hit rock bottom about a week ago,” said Phoenix forward Jeremy Roenick, who scored his only goal of the season Monday. “We’re just remaining there. It’s something I’ve never seen in my life. It’s utterly embarrassing.”
The Coyotes failed to score on nine power-play opportunities Wednesday, and have converted just 1-of-26 (3.8 percent) chances with the man advantage during their losing streak. Meanwhile, their penalty killing unit has stopped just 75.6 percent (31-of-41) of their opportunities in that span.
Backup goalie Mike Morrison allowed three goals on nine shots before being pulled in the second period against the Flames. Morrison was placed on waivers Wednesday, leaving Curtis Joseph as the only goaltender on the Phoenix roster.
Joseph gave up three goals on 21 shots as Morrison’s replacement, and is 2-5 with a 3.95 GAA in nine games. He went 2-1-1 with a 3.91 GAA against the Oilers – whom he played for from 1995-98 – last season, and is 19-7-1 with three ties and a 2.67 GAA in his career against them
The Coyotes play seven of their next eight games at home, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing. They are just 1-3 while suffering two shutouts at Jobing.com Arena this season.
The Phoenix-based online employment service agreed to a 10-year, $25 million deal Wednesday for the naming rights to Glendale Arena.
by: Gary Roberts – theSpread.com – Email Us
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