GLENDALE, Ariz. – Even after his team gave back a pair of leads and was caught in a dogfight, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett felt his sputtering Coyotes were finally playing well enough to win.
All they needed was a big play – and captain Shane Doan delivered.
Less than six minutes after Taylor Hall's second power-play goal of the game pulled Edmonton even for a second time, Doan put the game-winner behind Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk with 8:15 left, paving the way to a 4-2 win that snapped a three-game losing streak and kept the Oilers headed in the wrong direction.
Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata scored hustle goals in the first and second periods and Oliver Ekman-Larsson added some insurance with 5:23 in the third left for the Coyotes, who outshot Edmonton 42-20 and dominated puck possession to avoid going pointless in four straight games for the first time in Tippett's tenure in Phoenix.
The Coyotes' penalty kill continued to struggle as Hall scored power-play goals in the second and third periods. Phoenix, who had the NHL's third-best PK unit two weeks ago, has now allowed 11 power-play goals in its last seven games. But Tippett felt his team deserved to win and earned their two points.
"Right through our lineup we had a strong presence, we were engaged in the game and if a mistake happened, we overcame it," said Tippett, who benched veteran defenseman Derek Morris, demoted and juggled several forwards and pointedly voiced his displeasure with his team's play in Wednesday's 4-1 loss at Anaheim. "We did a lot of good things, and we were rewarded on the scoresheet for it."
Struggling goalie Mike Smith had to make just 18 saves to get only his second win of the month.
Hall scored his eighth and ninth goals of the in his first game back since suffering a shoulder injury in Colorado on Nov. 26. The Oilers have lost seven of nine and are now 6-12-1 since losing 4-2 to Phoenix in their last visit to Jobing.com Arena on Nov. 5 after an 8-1-1 start.
"I'm sure when they went to their room they definitely thought they played well," Hall said. "There wasn't a lot of room out there and they played like they always do. We could take a little note from them in how they play the same way every night and they're all on the same page."
The first goal continues to be the barometer for Phoenix. The Coyotes are now an uncanny 14-1-3 when scoring first this season, collecting 31 of their 35 points in those 18 games. When Phoenix gives up the first goal, it's an abysmal 2-11-0 -- and the Coyotes were outscored 8-0 in the first period of the three-game losing streak they took into Thursday. But Korpikoski's great individual effort 15:18 into the game earned the Coyotes the advantage they crave.
Korpikoski fanned on a shot from the right circle but scampered after it, dove out to reach the puck first and fluttered a shot over Dubnyk's right shoulder to give the Coyotes their first lead since beating Nashville 3-2 back on Dec. 6.
The Oilers tied the game when, capping a flurry of five penalties to both sides through the second period, Phoenix center Boyd Gordon slashed former Coyote Eric Belanger off a faceoff and Edmonton cashed in. Hall walked out from behind the net, took a pass from rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and squeezed the puck under Smith's paddle for his eighth goal at 16:02 of the second to tie the game. But Edmonton couldn't build on it.
"When we needed to come out and ride the momentum after a goal, it just seemed like they pushed us more than we wanted to go," forward Ryan Jones said. "It's something that we have to fix inside the locker room."
Vrbata put the Coyotes back in front with 36.9 seconds left in the period, just seconds after a Martin Hanzal goal was washed out by the officials due to goalie interference – although replays clearly showed Phoenix's Ray Whitney was cross-checked into the crease by Edmonton's Corey Potter. Vrbata had to be restrained by his linemates as he argued the call.
But on the same shift, Whitney and Hanzal both put shots on Dubnyk before Vrbata roofed a forehand for his team-leading 15th goal and 14th in the last 22 games.
"I thought Vrby was going to get tossed out of the game there for a second with the mouth he was using," Whitney said with a smile. "It's funny how the Czechs can speak perfect English when it comes to stuff like that. But it was a little redemption, a little karma that he was able to score right after that."
The Coyotes' penalty kill unit, however, continued to betray them. Keith Yandle was sent off for boarding and Hall cashed in with 13:49 left in regulation to pull Edmonton even again.
But Phoenix just kept coming, Mikkel Boedker kept a puck in at the blue line and Ekman-Larsson fed Doan left of the post. Doan stickhandled around a prone Potter and beat Dubnyk to put Phoenix ahead for good. Ekman-Larsson, who was a minus-3 in Anaheim and a plus-3 against the Oilers, added his sixth goal of the season from a bad angle to ice it.