The Phoenix Coyotes began their three game road trip with an afternoon by giving up two unanswered goals in regulation and two more in the shootout.
The Phoenix Coyotes started their Western Canadian swing without their big guns. Both Martin Hanzal and Radim Vrbata were not in the lineup against Edmonton due to injury. However, the Desert Dogs did welcome Matthew Lombardi back to the lineup for the first time in a month. Unfortunately, the veteran center and his teammates didn't leave town with two points. For the second time this season the Oilers beat the Coyotes in a game which lasted more than 60 minutes.
The opening frame was played at a brisk pace for the first five minutes with the Coyotes forecheck dominating much of the action. Phoenix the first team to score. Kyle Chipchura stuffed the puck into the net to left side of Khabibulin at 5:23 mark, immediately after his linemate Nick Johnson had attempted to do the same thing on the opposite side of the net. Soon after, the Oilers put pressure on the Coyotes with Magnus Paajarvi being given a golden opportunity right in front of the crease. Mike Smith made the save and soon after Chris Vande Velde hooked Antione Vermette in the Coyotes zone. Thus began a parade to the penalty box for the rest of the period.
The Coyotes couldn't muster a shot on goal on the power play and would struggle again during their other two power plays in the stanza. David Moss took a hooking penalty just over a minute after Vande Velde was released from the box. The Oilers would look as poorly as the Coyotes did on their power play. In fact, the best scoring opportunity was by Lauri Korpikoski on a short handed breakaway which he failed to convert on. Edmonton would take two more penalties themselves in the period. In a similar fashion to their opponents earlier penalty kill, the Oilers got better scoring opportunities on the power plays than the Coyotes did. Both Eric Belanger and Sam Ganger had shorthanded breakaway chances denied by Smith.
The first five minutes of the second period was a mirror image of the first, with the one change being it was Edmonton putting the pressure on instead of Phoenix. Mike Smith made big saves on Eric Belanger and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins early on in the period. Not long after, a crazy sequence occurred. The Phoenix netminder stacked his pads to block a shot by Randy Jones. The puck was then shot again at the net, but this time it was Keith Yandle and his glove which made the save as he stood behind a sprawled out Smith. The momentum in the period finally changed when Phoenix coach Dave Tippett threw his fourth line on the ice which resulted in another scoring chance by Chipchura. At the 6:15 mark of the period, Edmonton defensemen Nick Schultz accidentally high sticked David Moss and was sent to the box on a 4 minute double minor.
Unlike in the first period when Phoenix struggled to get the puck deep against the aggressive Edmonton PK, the Yotes got the puck deep and had sustained pressure on the power play. With 33 seconds left on Schultz’s penalty Matthew Lombardi swatted the puck into the goal with his backhand after successive shots by Lauri Korpikoski and Mikkel Boedker. Rostislav Klesla tripped Edmonton captain Ryan Smyth with just over nine minutes left in the period. The Yotes killed the penalty, and as it ended, Klesla got breakaway chance coming out of the box courtesy of Doan outlet pass. Klesla was unable to get the puck past Khabibulin and the scored stayed 2-0 Phoenix until Jordan Eberle scored crashing the crease off a backhand pass by Nail Yakupov after Yotes failed to convert on a power play. The second frame ended with Phoenix holding a 2-1 lead.
The third period began with more Edmonton pressure. Nail Yakupov, whose goal beat Phoenix in their earlier meeting this season, failed to score on two excellent chances early in the from. Not long after Steve Sullivan tried a wrap around attempt which resulted in the majority of players on the ice crashing the crease, but the puck stayed out of the net. The Coyotes received their sixth power play of the game not long after, but failed to convert. A minute and a half after the Yotes power play ended, Edmonton got one of their own courtesy of a Rusty Klesla hooked which was inexplicably was called on Keith Yandle. The Oilers scored immediately when Teemu Hartikainen slammed in a Ryan Smyth tip. Late in the period Boedker was wiped out by Ladislav Smid’s stick on breakaway created by a beautiful OEL outlet pass, but no penalty was called.The team's ended regulation tied at 2 a piece.
Most of the action during overtime was in the Coyotes end. This was partially due to Lauri Koprkikoski taking a penalty 55 seconds into the extra frame. The Dogs killed the penalty, but throughout OT the puck was flying around and through Smith's crease, though Phoenix's goalie was up to the task making several saves including a beautiful glove save on a rocket shot.The Coyotes best scoring chance in OT came as time was winding down. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was streaking down right wing and shot the puck which deflected off an Oiler defender's stick, but Khabibulin made the save. The OT session ended just as regulation had.
- This was Edmonton's seventh trip to extra time in 17 games this season.
- While Boyd Gordon was only credited with one shot on goal he had at least 3 excellent scoring chances he failed to convert on in the game.
- Similar to Gordon, Steve Sullivan had a bunch of golden opportunities of his own. Gordon is expected to miss most his, Sullivan is not.
- Paul Bisonnette got his first point of the season with his assist on the opening goal of the contest.
- Matthew Lombardi was all over the ice. You never would have known he had been out of the lineup since January 24.The only area he was poor in was in the faceoff circle. He only won 3 of 11 draws.
- Chipchura's afternoon was similar to Lombardi's day. Great everywhere but in the dot.
- The team needed more from Vermette, Boedker, and Doan with Hanzal and Vrbata out of the lineup.
Ryan Whitney was a healthy scratch for the Oilers for the fifth time this season. Given Edmonton's desperation for quality blueline play that isn't a good sign.
- Taylor Hall served the first game in his two game suspension.
Five for Winning
Firing Squad: Shooting the puck has been better this year than most (4th in the league in shots per game) for the Coyotes, the continuation of this trend can reward the desert team handsomely as neither Edmonton Oilers' goaltenders have been stellar this season. Fail. The Coyotes were outshot 43 to 36.
Defense: It'll be important to not have Mike Smith overworked in his first of three road games. While the Oilers haven't been lighting the lamp as much lately they do generate plenty of good scoring chances, and its up to the Dmen to make sure these chances don't become goals. Fail. 43 shots including a number of breakaway opportunities is not giving your goalie a rest.
Be Physical: The young Oilers team will need to be cut off in every facet of the game. A heavy forecheck and back check will be the only thing to slow down this high flying team. Pass. The Coyotes forecheck was relatively successful.
Discipline: After giving up too many penalties in the game against the Blue Jackets, the Coyotes did much better job staying out of the box against the Flames. It'll be important to stay out of the box in this match up as well as. The Oilers are 7th in the league in power play goals. Success? The Coyotes won the penalty battle 6 to 4, but the final one was a dagger.
Special Teams: This is one area the Oilers have an advantage. The Coyotes are 18th in the league on the road (15.4%) with the extra man, while the Oilers are 9th in the league (85.7%) at home on the penalty kill and 4th overall in the league (87.7%). The Oilers home power play is (28.6%) is 4th in the league, while the Coyotes PK road is 20th (78.3%). If Phoenix can execute better than they have up to this point in the season on special teams and keep the special team's differential even they are likely to win the game. Fail. Each team scored a power play goal, but the Coyotes were unsuccessful by not making an undisciplined team pay for their mistakes.
1. Nikolai Khabibulin - Saved 34 of 36 shots and both shootout attempts. Kept his team in the game after going down 2 goals.
2. Mike Smith - Saved 41 of 43 shots including several breakaway chances by the Oilers. He deserved a better fate.
3. Sam Gagner - 1 assist, 6 shots, and SO goal. Also, outside of Ryan Smyth, I thought he was the most active Oiler all game long.
The Coyotes have little time to rest as they play again tomorrow evening in Calgary. The Flames won't be well rested either, as they play the Wild at home later on tonight.