GLENDALE, Ariz. – No one in the Phoenix dressing room or even coach Dave Tippett himself was aware Saturday's 4-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers was his 100th behind the Coyotes' bench. Or if they did, no one was admitting it.
For a man who celebrates personal milestones with all the enjoyment of a trip to the dentist, Tippett was much more concerned with one win – this one – than how many he has compiled in his two-plus years in the desert. But if No. 100 was going to come, it was nice that it came on a night when the Coyotes implemented his no-nonsense, defensively responsible coaching style to perfection.
"It is what it is. I like to win, so I have no problem with that I guess," Tippett said, smiling. "I thought our first 40 minutes was very good, we played the game fast and we knew had to start better. I liked the way our guys hung in there and we got two big points for us."
Daymond Langkow and Adrian Aucoin had second-period goals, goalie Mike Smith made 24 saves and the Phoenix defense threw a net over the young and speedy Oilers and snapped their six-game winning streak before a boisterous crowd of 13,381 at Jobing.com Arena.
Edmonton rookie Ryan Nugent-Hopkins spoiled Smith's bid for his first shutout as a Coyote with his sixth goal in first 13 NHL games with 10:33 left in regulation. But just 2:09 later, Phoenix's Boyd Gordon completed a pretty tic-tac-toe sequence with linemates Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney to restore the two-goal lead.
The Oilers came right back with 6:13 left when Theo Peckham deflected a Colten Teubert shot from the point past Smith to move Edmonton back within a goal. But Phoenix stayed out of trouble from there, and Whitney added an empty-net goal with 11 seconds left to ice the Coyotes fifth win in the last seven games (5-1-1).
Tippett reached 100 wins faster than any coach in franchise history, in just his 177th game (100-55-22). He now has 371 wins in his NHL coaching career in Dallas and Phoenix and is the fourth coach in franchise history to reach 100 wins, following Bobby Francis (165), Wayne Gretzky (143) and John Paddock (106).
"We got the puck on net early, we got it behind them early and we’ve shown when we don't do that we struggle, Aucoin said. "It was a textbook Dave Tippett game. He implements such an easy game for us to play. We don't have the big names or the superstars, but we find ways because of our system and the way he demands that we play."
The Coyotes held the high-flying Oilers, who came into the game with six straight wins and having allowed just 12 goals in their first 12 games, to just 14 shots in the first two periods and used puck control and a swarming forecheck to keep Edmonton hemmed in their own zone.
"I didn't think we were competitive enough to start the game," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "They came at us like we should have, and we put ourselves behind the 8-ball with all types of turnovers and allowed Phoenix to counter-attack and strike hard. We really had to muster everything to get ourselves back in the game."
Edmonton goalie Devan Dubnyk, subbing for the red-hot Nikolai Khabibulin, kept his team in the game with several highlight-reel stops among his 26 saves – 14 of them, in the first period. But he couldn't stop them all as the Coyotes beat the Oilers for the seventh time in their last eight meetings.
Phoenix broke through on a pretty play 4:44 into the second period. From behind his own net, defenseman Keith Yandle feathered a pass through defender Tom Gilbert and caught Langkow in stride at center ice, Langkow skated in unmarked and flipped a backhander across the crease for his third goal of the season, all of them at home. Smith was credited with his fourth NHL assist on the play.
"I had some real good chances an unfortunately I only buried one," Langkow said. "That's what you want to do though, create chances. If you get enough of them, some will go in."
The Coyotes made it 2-0 late in the period by scoring only the sixth power-play goal in 50 chances by Oiler opponents this season. With Ladislav Smid in the box for interference, Patrick O'Sullivan gobbled up Anton Lander's poor clearing attempt and fed Aucoin at the point. With teammate Taylor Pyatt providing a perfect screen, Aucoin's low hard shot beat Dubnyk for his first goal in 30 games, dating back to Feb. 27, 2011, in Chicago.
"I don't know if I will get too many this year, but I've been waiting for awhile so it was good to get a power-play chance," Aucoin said.
Nugent-Hopkins gave his team some life by skating through the Phoenix defense, setting up Jordan Eberle for a shot and cleaning up the rebound for his 12th point of the year. But Gordon, centering the second line in place of the injured Martin Hanzal, finished off a pretty play for what proved to be the game-winner.
"We got another one (from Peckham) and made a late push, but it was just a little bit too late," Nugent-Hopkins said. "I don't think we came out hard enough in the first two periods. We let them dictate the game."
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3 - 1 PHX
3 - 2 PHX
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