Coyotes Withstand Late Edmonton Flurry, Down Oilers 3-1

Coyotes look to maintain playoff position in tilt with lowly Oilers.

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Bryzgalov Stellar As Coyotes Bounce Lowly Oilers, 3-1

It took another spirited performance from Ilya Bryzgalov, but when the dust cleared, the Coyotes had another two points to add to the standings on Thursday night.

While a game against the Edmonton Oilers may not sound like it would require a great amount of effort from a team looking destined for a playoff berth, the Oilers did what they could against the Yotes, despite playing nine regular players down from their lineup.

The difference in the game was certainly the goaltending, with Bryzgalov allowing just one goal to the Oilers, despite the 36 shots that Edmonton fired. The one goal that did get by him came with the Oilers on the man advantage, with Magnus Paajarvi netting his 11th of the year.

Despite managing just 17 shots on goal, the Coyotes got three past the veteran Nikolai Khabibulin. The first came on a backhander from Lee Stempniak with under a minute remaining in the first period.

Ray Whitney's goal made it 2-0, and came with a bit of controversy. Whitney scored on the breakaway and ran hard into Khabibulin, leaving it unclear as to whether or not it actually got past the Edmonton netminder. However, it was called a goal on the ice, and the review was inconclusive, leaving it to stand.

The backbreaker in this one would be Radim Vrbata's power play goal in the third period. With the score standing at 2-1, Vrbata flicked one past Khabibulin to put the game out of reach for the young Oilers.

The Coyotes now stand alone in fourth place in the Western Conference, trailing the division-leading San Jose Sharks by just a point in the standings.

Phoenix will turn right around and visit the NHL-best Vancouver Canucks on Friday before returning home against Chicago on Sunday.

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Coyotes Look For 'Easy' Two Points Against Oilers In Edmonton

As the NHL as a whole has around a dozen games remaining for each team, it's looking more and more like the Coyotes will have a playoff berth sewn up come April. They can take another step towards just that, when they visit the lowly Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

While there's no such thing as a "gimme" game in the NHL, a tilt with the Oilers promises to be about as close as one can get to a cakewalk.

Heading into the fourth meeting against the young group from Edmonton, the Coyotes have won two of the three contests to date, but that third is surely weighing heavy on their minds. That contest saw the Coyotes drop the game in the final seconds, but found themselves outplayed for the majority of the game.

As unfortunate as it is to be an Oiler fan these days, it hasn't gotten any easier with their recent slew of injuries. Nine players have found themselves on the trainer's table, including standout rookie Taylor Hall.

The Coyotes are no stranger to reading an injury report, having dealt with their own health issues of late. Defenseman Rostislav Klesla returned Tuesday against Calgary, leaving the Coyotes with only Martin Hanzal and Ed Jovanovski on the list of walking wounded. Hanzal is day-to-day, while Jovo is currently on injured reserve.

While a win for the Coyotes won't help them advance too high in the standings, a loss to Edmonton could hamper their playoff hopes a bit, at least in seeding. With a win and a Kings loss, they're in fourth, with home ice advantage for the first round. But a loss and a Blackhawks win leaves them in sixth.

You can follow along as the Coyotes continue their quest towards the postseason with Five For Howling, with the puck scheduled for a 6:00 drop, local time. 

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