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Game Thread: Oilers vs Coyotes - An Afternoon Matchup

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The Oilers kick off the new year with an afternoon matchup against the Arizona Coyotes.

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The Oilers and Winnipeg Jets, I mean Phoenix Coyotes, I mean Arizona Coyotes faceoff today in a matinee at Rexall Place. The Oilers come into this afternoon's game having lost four straight games - all to a divisional opponent- and seven of their last eight, getting outscored 27-12, including two shutouts, along the way. The Coyotes meanwhile find themselves in second place in the NHL's Pacific Division and have points in seven of their last ten games with five wins and two overtime losses in that stretch.

Without a morning skate we don't know for sure, but it's likely that the Oilers start Cam Talbot in net again this afternoon. Talbot rebounded quite nicely on New Year's Eve from his previous start versus the Kings in which he gave up three goals in 96 seconds. With his 34 save performance on Thursday night Talbot's save percentage has crept back up to 0.906, which is still firmly in "not very good" territory but it's improving, and more and more his early season struggles are being forgotten as Oilers fans get a consistent look at the player they thought they were getting when Peter Chiarelli traded for him at the draft.

Regardless of what Talbot, or Anders Nilsson, does between the pipes though, it means nothing if the team in from of him can't score a couple goals. The Oilers haven't scored more than three goals in a game since they exploded for seven in a 1980's throwback in honour of Glen Sather, and in the nine games since that have been held to fewer than three goals on six occasions. The closed out 2015 by failing to score a powerplay goal in seven straight games and going 3 for 35 during the month of December.

Yes, Connor McDavid is skating again and that's great news, but this team can't, nor should they need to, wait for him to return to the lineup before they start putting the puck in the net again. The man trying to prevent them from doing that this afternoon will be Louis Domingue, a goalie that it's entirely possible you've never heard of before. This will be only Domingue's seventh start of the season and fourteenth of his career; he's posted a 0.922 save percentage in six appearances this season.

The Oilers struggling to score goals and the opposing starting a goalie with very little NHL experience, this never ends well for the Oilers. The only good news is that at least Domingue has already recorded a shutout in his short career, so the Oilers won't find themselves the answer to that trivia question again.