The Phoenix Coyotes are struggling on the road, a place where they will spend the majority of their time over the final few weeks of the regular season.
A visit to Edmonton to face the sliding Oilers could help Phoenix pick up some much-needed points in the race for one of the Western Conference's final postseason spots.
The Coyotes try to earn at least one point for the seventh straight matchup in Edmonton when these playoff hopefuls meet Wednesday night.
Phoenix (17-16-6) is three points behind Detroit for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West, while Edmonton (16-16-7) trails the Red Wings by four.
The Coyotes began a stretch of playing seven of their final 10 games on the road with a 2-0 loss to Vancouver on Monday night. Phoenix is 2-7-4 in its last 13 away from home and is tied with Calgary for the second-fewest road wins in the NHL with four.
"We were just slow moving, we were slow out of the gate for whatever reason," coach Dave Tippett said. "It's not a lack of confidence, we should have confidence coming off some good home wins, but we didn't execute well, we didn't skate well and that's what you get when you don't execute and don't skate."
Mike Smith finished one save shy of his season high, stopping 40 shots, as the Coyotes had their season-best three-game win streak come to an end. Phoenix had also registered a point in six straight (4-0-2).
"When you are facing elimination like we are, we've got to be more desperate than we showed," Smith said.
In stark contrast to their season-long road woes, the Coyotes are 5-0-1 in their last six trips to Edmonton. In fact, Phoenix has done an excellent job of earning points wherever it's faced the Oilers over the past few seasons. It's gone 10-1-2 in the last 13 overall meetings, but suffered an overtime and shootout loss, respectively, in its last two games against them.
Edmonton defeated Phoenix 2-1 in overtime with Chad Johnson in goal Jan. 30 before beating Smith twice in the shootout to come away with a 3-2 victory at home Feb. 23.
Smith is 4-0-1 with a 1.75 goals-against average versus Edmonton since joining the Coyotes prior to the 2011-12 season.
The Oilers are returning home after losing the final three games of their four-game trip. Following an 8-2 win over Calgary on Wednesday night, Edmonton was outscored 10-2 in the last three stops, falling 2-1 to Anaheim on Monday night.
"We're really in a tough spot right now. We really had to win this one," forward Taylor Hall said. "It's going to take a lot for our group, and we're just going to have to stay motivated because you never know what can happen."
The Oilers have allowed each of their last three opponents to have five power-play opportunities.
"For some reason in the last few games, we're taking more penalties than we have in the past," said defenseman Nick Schultz, who ended a 58-game goal drought Monday. "We're killing the speed of our game. We need to be more disciplined and make sure we're not killing ourselves. We need to be better in a lot of areas, winning battles and getting pucks in the net."
The Associated Press News Service
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