GLENDALE, Ariz. - Growing up a hockey player northern Alberta makes you an Edmonton fan and a Calgary hater, so even after all these years, Vernon Fiddler relishes the opportunity to toss a little Oil in the Flames.
The Edmonton native picked a perfect time to gain revenge for 15 games of frustration, not only scoring for the first time this season but collecting his first career NHL hat trick in his 397th game as the Coyotes escaped with a 5-4 win over the Flames on Friday night.
"Any hat trick would be special, but I grew up an Oilers fan and we didn't like the Flames very much," said Fiddler, who hadn't had a single point since getting an assist in the season opener Oct. 9 in Prague. "In street hockey, you always wanted to beat the Flames."
Another Flame-hater from Alberta, Fort McMurry's Scottie Upshall, also scored for the Coyotes, who survived two Calgary goals in the final 48 seconds to win back-to-back games for the first time this season. Fiddler, who now has seven of his 56 career goals against Calgary, sent hats flying with his empty-netter with 1:38 left, making it 5-2.
"I was an Oiler fan growing up and I know I'll have a few text messages from friends tonight," said Upshall, who suffered a season-ending knee injury against Calgary on Jan. 28. "The way the game ended is a lesson and it's definitely not going to go unnoticed. The last two minutes can throw a dagger in your heart if you're not ready for it."
Fiddler, Upshall and Lee Stempniak scored in a 6:47 span of the second period to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead as Phoenix followed up a 2-1 win at Chicago on Wednesday and improved to 6-5-5. Fiddler joined Stempniak and Ed Jovanovski as the third Coyote to record a hat trick in the first 16 games of the season.
"We played well in Detroit (a 3-2 overtime loss on Monday) and snuck out two points in Chicago so this was a game we really wanted," Upshall said "We've had trouble putting back-to-back wins together and we did it against a good team that really came at us.
Rene Bourque and Ian White also scored for the Flames, who have lost four of their last five after a 6-3-0 start.
"We didn't commit too many turnovers, but it seemed like they capitalized on every one," said Bourque, who now has a team-best eight goals and added an assist. "We had a lot of good scoring chances, we played pretty well defensively. We just didn't do enough."
The Coyotes came out roaring early, but the Flames got the only goal when Bourque was left all alone in the slot to clean up the rebound ofCory Sarich's shot and beat Ilya Bryzgalov at 9:24.
The Coyotes came out strong again in the second, and this time they cashed in. Fiddler tipped home an Adrian Aucoin shot/pass at 1:34 and just 3:48 later, Wojtek Wolski set up Stempniak for the easy finish and his team-leading fifth goal to put the Coyotes ahead to stay.
Upshall made it 3-1 just 2:59 after that, flying down the left side and beating Kiprusoff under the arm with a laser at 8:21 to complete the outburst.
"They were really high pressure there for about 10 minutes there and we just didn't handle it well enough," Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr said. "We had a few too many lapses."
Calgary cut the lead to 3-2 at 12:40, needing only seven seconds to cash in its first power play of the night. Jokinen's clean faceoff win set up White, whose slapper from center point beat Bryzgalov through traffic.
From there it was too much Fiddler and not enough time for Calgary.
"(Fiddler) got rewarded for some hard work he's been putting in all year," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said.
|Rene Bourque (8) ASST: Cory Sarich (4)|
1 - 0 CGY
|Vernon Fiddler (1) ASST: Adrian Aucoin (6), Lauri Korpikoski (3)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Lee Stempniak (5) ASST: Wojtek Wolski (8), Keith Yandle (5)|
2 - 1 PHX
|Scottie Upshall (4) ASST: Ray Whitney (6)|
3 - 1 PHX
|PPG - Ian White (2) ASST: Rene Bourque (6), Olli Jokinen (6)|
3 - 2 PHX
|Vernon Fiddler (2) ASST: Lauri Korpikoski (4), Taylor Pyatt (3)|
4 - 2 PHX
|EN - Vernon Fiddler (3) ASST: Lauri Korpikoski (5), Adrian Aucoin (7)|
5 - 2 PHX
|Alex Tanguay (5) ASST: Matt Stajan (8), Stefan Meyer (2)|
5 - 3 PHX
|Tim Jackman (2) ASST: Steve Staios (1), Brendan Morrison (9)|
5 - 4 PHX
|Eric Belanger Cross checking against Curtis Glencross|
|Keith Yandle Tripping against Curtis Glencross|
|Derek Morris Cross checking against Niklas Hagman|
|Scottie Upshall Tripping against Robyn Regehr|