Mike Ribeiro and Mikkel Boedker each scored a goal and added two assists, leading the Coyotes to a 6-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night. Ribeiro set up a pair of goals in less than a minute in the second period, then scored in the third. It was his first three-point game of the season.
But defense, not offense, has been the Coyotes' weak point this season. Allowing two goals to a team with a lot of young offensive talent was a good sign.
"I guess we'll take the two goals against, that's what we're looking for, to tighten things up defensively," Ribeiro said. "We knew if we stayed patient in the third that they would probably try to open up and that's what happened. We had our chances, were able to score and we'll take those two points especially on this road trip."
Boedker scored a goal in the first, then collected assists in the second and third period. It was also his first three-point night of the season. Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan, Keith Yandle, and David Moss also scored for the Coyotes, who won the opener of a four-game road trip that continues Wednesday against the Calgary Flames.
It was a solid bounce-back effort for the Coyotes after a 5-2 home loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
"Obviously after the Chicago game, we wanted to make sure we came out and played more to our identity, especially on the road," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We're starting a tough trip, we wanted to come in and play well tonight. I thought for the most part, we did a lot of good things.
"In the third period, we wanted to make sure we had the pedal down and get ahead a little bit. We had to kill a couple of penalties at the end, but it was pretty much a solid effort."
David Perron scored both goals for the Oilers, who fell to 3-9-0 at Rexall Place this season.
Boedker opened the scoring on the power play at 3:37 of the first period, finding a rebound in front of Oilers goaltender Devan Dubnyk and slipping the puck underneath him. Dubnyk, making the start in place of the injured Ilya Bryzgalov, had stopped Vrbata's initial shot but lost track of the rebound.
Perron responded at 9:51, capitalizing on a giveaway by Coyotes defenseman David Schlemko, who handed the puck to Mark Arcobello at the top of the faceoff circle. Arcobello dropped it back to Perron, who wired a shot past goaltender Mike Smith.
"We had to get out of the first period, that's been kind of our Achilles' heel for the last few games," Doan said. "Getting out of the first and getting that first power play goal was big. We kind of continued to get better throughout the game. It was a big effort from our group all around, our group played better."
Vrbata put the Coyotes up 2-1 at 6:58 of the second, converting a centering feed from Ribeiro, who found him between a pair of Oilers in front of the net. Just 58 seconds later, Doan tipped a Ribeiro floater from the point past Dubnyk, who appeared to lose sight of the puck as it headed toward the net.
Perron cut into the lead at 19:08 when he took a pass from Ales Hemsky in front and beat Smith from the slot for a power-play goal.
But the Coyotes blew the game open with three goals in the third period. Ribeiro restored their two-goal lead at 4:46 by capitalizing on a turnover behind the Oilers net. Defenseman Justin Schultz gave up the puck to Moss, who slid it to Doan at the side of the net. Doan found Ribeiro unattended in front for a shot past Dubnyk. Yandle extended the lead at 9:33, undressing Oilers defenseman Jeff Petry on a rush and firing a shot over Dubnyk's shoulder.
"I was actually encouraged by our first period," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "In the second those two quick goals hurt us, their third one being a fluky one, but then we battled back. Our group has to get more comfortable being in close games. After that, the fourth goal, the fifth, the sixth, that is about as bad as I have seen three or four of our defensemen play this year and it cost us."
Moss made it 6-2 at 10:15, tipping an Oliver Ekman-Larsson point shot that was stopped by Dubnyk, but then diving to swat the rebound into the net.
"It was a leaky game, defensively," Oilers captain Andrew Ference said. "We didn't simplify things, that's for sure. A couple of our shifts after they had just scored goals, that's when you have to press reset and it is imperative that the next shift is a strong one. You need to get it out of your zone and into theirs and we fell flat in that regard tonight. We did a poor job tonight."
The Oilers (9-18-2) host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday in the second of a five-game homestand.
"We can't really blame it on being a young team anymore," forward Taylor Hall said. "I don't think that crutch is still there. It is a matter of our attitude coming into games and starting games well. It's like we try to do a little too much and against a team like Phoenix, they are going to get into your end and cycle you to death and make you pay, and that's what happened."