By: Chad LynchPhotos courtesy of the Edmonton Oilers
On Monday night, the Phoenix Coyotes moved to 2-1-0 on their current road trip with a 7-1 loss in Edmonton.
The Edmonton Oilers exhibited the strong offensive pressure early in the first period and it paid off just 3:30 into the period when Edmonton crashed the net and after a pair of strong saves by goaltender Curtis Joseph, Marc-Antoine Pouliot followed up the play and poked the puck into the net for a 1-0 Oiler lead. Pouliot's goal, was the first of his NHL career.
Just 26-seconds after the Oilers took the lead, they added to it on a similar rush in the Phoenix end. This time it was Marc-Andre Bergeron who took a shot from the right face-off circle and after Joseph turned the drive aside, a streaking Shawn Horcoff was able to grab the loose puck in the slot and fire it into the Coyotes goal for a 2-0 Oilers lead.
Edmonton continued to catch the breaks as Coyotes captain Shane Doan was sent to the penalty box for interference at 7:02 0f the first. However, the Coyotes were determined to stop the bleeding and they started to do so with an aggressive penalty kill that kept the Oilers confined to the outer perimeter and in doing so kept Edmonton off the scoreboard.
Phoenix registered their best scoring chance up to that point with about six minutes left to play in the opening frame as Oleg Saprykin's shot at the side of the net seemed to catch Edmonton netminder Dwayne Roloson a little off guard. After Roloson made the initial stop on Saprykin, Mike Comrie quickly rushed in and tried to poke the loose puck at Roloson's feet into the goal, but rather knocked it off the right leg pad of Roloson as the score remained 2-0.
The Coyotes continued to make strides offensively and with under two-minutes to go in the first, they cut the lead in half as a scrum in front of the Edmonton goal forced Roloson deep into his own net where he eventually fell into a sitting position, allowing Comrie to lift the puck over him to make it a 2-1 contest. Comrie's goal at 18:11 of the first period, was his team-leading 28th goal of the season.
Neither club would find the back of the net again in the opening 20 minutes as the Coyotes skated off the ice after one period of action, trailing the Oilers 2-1.
The Coyotes began the second period with a scare as Saprykin fell deep in the Edmonton zone as he tried to tip a pass from Comrie onto the net, but was unable to stop before slamming his back into the boards behind the Oilers goal. After staying on the ice for several seconds, Saprykin was helped to the bench. Phoenix was already dealing with a short bench after an awkward hit on fellow Russian Oleg Kvasha caused the Coyotes center to leave the game with a knee injury.
At 5:08 of the second, a breakdown in defensive zone coverage by the Coyotes left Edmonton's Ethan Moreau alone at the left side of the net where he blasted a snap shot that flew over the glove hand of Joseph, increasing the Oilers lead to 3-1.
With 12:12 to play in the stanza, the Coyotes were again bitten by bad luck as Comrie took a hit from behind inside the Edmonton zone and Mike Johnson was struck in the face by an errant Oilers high stick, both of which yielded no penalties to the Oilers.
In addition to not being able to draw a penalty, Comrie was sent to the penalty box with 12:12 to play in the period for a delay-of-game call after he inadvertently flipped the puck over the glass from within his own zone. The penalty would turn out to be costly to the Coyotes as Marc-Andre Bergeron drew a slap shot on goal just 34-seconds into the Edmonton power play to make it a 4-1 game.
Edmonton made it 5-1 at 10:13 of the period when Michael Peca fired a slap shot from the right face-off circle that found a hole through the legs of "Cujo". Oilers' Radek Dvorak and Ethan Moreau registered assists on Peca's ninth goal of the season.
Coyotes forward Josh Gratton tried to infuse a little energy into the Coyotes when he dropped the gloves with Edmonton's Brad Winchester with 8:24 to play in the second. Gratton landed a couple heavy blows before dropping Winchester to the ice and being escorted to the penalty box.
Phoenix made another ill-fated trip to the penalty box at 14:52 of the period when defenseman Keith Ballard was called for slashing. The Oilers would cash in on the man-advantage with 5:08 to go in the second when Sergei Samsonov sent a wrist shot from the slot that picked the top left corner of the net and gave Edmonton a five-goal lead at 6-1.
That would conclude the scoring in the second period as the Coyotes trailed Edmonton 6-1 after 40-minutes of play.
To start the final period of play, the Coyotes turned to goaltender David LeNeveu in relief of Curtis Joseph.
Just as his predecessor did, LeNeveu saw his share of shots early as the Oilers kept the pressure on the Coyotes defense. When Phoenix was able to turn the puck back up ice and set up in the Edmonton zone, Roloson was in position to make the stop and keep the Coyotes with just a single goal.
LeNeveu made a brilliant save on Radek Dvorak with just under nine minutes to play in regulation as he fought against the momentum of his body to keep the puck from falling into the goal.
The Oilers capped off their offensive night with 4:10 to play in the game when Radek Dvorak blasted a slap shot from the right face-off circle that beat LeNeveu before he could get over, putting Edmonton up by the score of 7-1.
Phoenix would run out the remainder of the third period without further incident as they dropped their first game of their current four game road trip (2-1-0) with the loss to the Oilers.