Photos by Norm Hall
Through the first two minutes of play, the Oilers showed a distinct offensive advantage as they continuously worked the puck around the Phoenix zone, causing goaltender Curtis Joseph to move from post-to-post in order to cut down the angles and keep Edmonton off the scoreboard.
The Oilers aggressive play led to the first penalty of the game as Edmonton's Ryan Smyth was called for tripping at 2:13 of the first. On the power play, the Coyotes were able to carry the puck into the offensive zone a couple times, but couldn't register a shot on net and the Oilers returned to full strength.
Defense was the early key for both clubs as there were only three official shots on net through the first ten minutes of the game, all of which were taken by Edmonton.
At 10:01 of the period, Phoenix defenseman Dennis Seidenberg was sent to the box for interference, giving the Oilers their first power play of the night. Edmonton would have little to be happy about in regards to their first man-advantage of the night as the Phoenix penalty-killing unit continually disrupted the momentum and cleared the zone, eventually killing off the minor infraction.
With 6:54 to play in the first, the Coyotes went back on the power play when Oiler tough-guy Georges Laraque was called for roughing. Skating with the extra attacker, Coyotes defenseman Keith Ballard sacrificed his body when he carried the puck through the neutral zone and made a key dump-in at the blue line to get the puck deep. On the dump-in, Ballard was caught in the face by a high stick from one of the Oilers forward, cutting Ballard and sending him over to the bench for examination. At the same time, the Coyotes went to work with the puck deep in the Edmonton zone and after a failed attempt to get the puck to the front of the net where Ladislav Nagy and Mike Ricci were trying to set screens, Phoenix defenseman Paul Mara was able to get control of the puck and send a pass across the slot to Zbynek Michalek, who blasted a slap shot that beat Edmonton netminder Mike Morrison for a 1-0 Coyotes lead. Michalek's goal was his ninth and fifth on the power play as the goal came with 15 seconds left in the penalty to Laraque.
Edmonton had a late power play of their own as Fredrik Sjostrom was called for tripping with 2:17 left in the first, but once again, the penalty killing unit of the Coyotes and the goaltending of Joseph, kept the Oilers attack in neutral as the first period of play came to an end with the Coyotes holding a 1-0 lead.
In the second period, the Oilers wasted little time in tying the game at 1-1 as a scrum in front of the Coyotes net ended when Oiler left wing Raffi Torres grabbed a loose puck just beyond the top of the crease and roofed a shot over the shoulder of Joseph to tie the game.
The Coyotes went back on the penalty kill at 2:05 of the period when Nagy was called for tripping. With 33 seconds left on the penalty kill, Joseph made a great save to keep Edmonton from taking the lead as he slid across the crease to his right to make a stop on a one-timer by Jarret Stoll at the right side of the net. That would be the last scorning opportunity the Oilers would get before Nagy's penalty expired and Phoenix returned to full strength.
Edmonton returned the favor to the Coyotes at 5:12 of the second when defenseman Steve Staios was called for delay-of-game after closing his hand on the puck in the Oiler zone. After 59 seconds of the Staios penalty had expired, Ethan Moreau (tripping) joined him in the penalty box, giving the Coyotes a minute of five-on-three hockey. Phoenix nearly retook the lead on the two-man advantage, but a centering feed to Ricci, who was camped at the top of the crease, was deflected at the last second, disrupting the Coyotes attack and killing of the final seconds of the two-man advantage. Feeding off the momentum from the five-on-three kill, the Oilers made quick work of the remaining penalty to Moreau and Edmonton was able to return to full strength still tied at 1-1.
At 8:39 of the second, Staios made an encore trip to the penalty box, this time for interference, putting the Coyotes back on the power play. However, the Oilers were in no mood to let the Coyotes generate an offensive rhythm during second Staios penalty and a few intercepted passes and clearing attempts brought Edmonton back to full strength without consequence.
Phoenix would get another shot at the power play at 11:21 of the stanza, but once again, the Coyotes offense had trouble finding a way around the Oilers penalty killing unit and Phoenix would watch another two-minutes of power play hockey expire without anything to show for it.
The Oilers received a power play of their own with 6:25 of the period when Oleg Saprykin was called for interference. Edmonton immediately turned up the pressure offensively as they made their way into the Phoenix zone and worked the puck around, taking periodical shots on net, but without finding the go-ahead goal. Then with the penalty winding down, the Oilers re-entered the Phoenix zone and dished the puck off to Ryan Smyth along the left hand boards. After holding the puck for a few seconds, Smyth let a wrist shot go that beat Joseph on the short side and gave Edmonton a 2-1 lead. The goal came one second after the penalty to Saprykin expired.
Edmonton's lead wouldn't last long as the Coyotes came storming back and with 3:38 to play in the period, Sjostrom blasted a slap shot from the right hand boards at Morrison was able to stop with a kick save, but he wasn't able to control the rebound, which came out to a streaking Dave Scatchard, who easily jammed the puck into the open net to tie the game at 2-2.
Phoenix would then re-take the lead with 1:55 to play in the period when Seidenberg sent a long pass from the Coyotes zone up to Ricci in the neutral zone who brought the puck into the zone and fed a pass over to Boyd Devereaux, who took the puck from his back hand to his forehand and flipped it into the net for a 3-2 Phoenix lead.
With just over a minute to play in the period, the Coyotes went back on the power play as Moreau was sent back to the box for roughing. Phoenix wouldn't convert before the period expired but they did take 51 seconds of the man-advantage into the third period as they skated off the ice after 40 minutes of play with a one-goal lead.
Entering the third period with 51 seconds of power play time, the Coyotes wouldn't get to take full advantage of the extra attacker as Ladislav Nagy was called for tripping at 39 seconds of the third, wiping out the remaining Phoenix advantage and giving the Oilers a power play of their own. This time the Oilers offense was the one that stalled with the man-advantage as the Coyotes kept the pressure off Joseph and allowed Nagy to return to the ice with Phoenix still on top 3-2.
Following the penalty kill by Phoenix, the Coyotes kicked their own offensive attack up a notch as they out-worked, out-hustled and out-skated the Oilers all over the ice for a span of about six minutes. But despite the intensified pressure applied by the Coyotes, the Oilers were able to keep the game close and stay within a goal.
With just over 12-minutes to play in regulation, the Oilers had a great chance to tie the game when Ryan Smyth sent a pass from behind the Phoenix net to a wide open Shawn Horcoff at the left side, who then one-timed a shot on net. But Joseph made an unbelievable save to slide over and trap the shot under his right leg pad, keeping the puck out of the net much to the dismay of Horcoff, who had already raised his arms in celebration of a goal that, as it turns out, never was.
The Coyotes found themselves shorthanded with 9:40 to play in the third when Mike Comrie was sent to the box for tripping. The Coyotes turned out one of their most impressive penalty killing efforts of the night as they forced Edmonton to hold the puck in situations where they wanted to pass or shoot, but simply couldn't find an open avenue because of the Phoenix penalty killers. However, the Oilers did manage to get a few shots on goal, but once again, "Cujo" stood tall between the pipes and preserved the 3-2 Coyotes lead.
As a reward for their effort on the penalty kill, the Coyotes went back on the power play with 6:34 to play in the third as Ryan Smyth was assessed a minor penalty for tripping. The Oilers knew that if they were going to stay within striking distance they had to kill off the penalty to Smyth and that is exactly what they did, thanks in large part to the goaltending of Morrison, who kept the Coyotes out of the Edmonton net.
With 4:23 to go n the third, Dave Scatchard was called for interference, giving the Oilers a crucial power play late in the game. Edmonton seemed to through everything they had at Joseph and the Coyotes net, but they simply couldn't find a hole to get the puck through.
Then with just under two minutes to play in the game, the Oilers pulled Morrison from the nets for the extra attacker, but after the face-off was brought back into their zone with 1:09 left to play, Morrison also returned to the net.
With 2.2 seconds left in regulation, the face-off came back into the Coyotes zone. On the draw, Edmonton's Marty Reasoner won the puck back to Chris Pronger who one-timed a shot past Joseph to tie the game at 3-3 and sent it into overtime.
In the extra session the Coyotes penalty-killing unit was tested once again as Nagy was called for hooking with 2:30 to play. After a successful kill, Phoenix returned to full strength for the final seconds of play before the buzzer sounded signaling the second shootout in as many meetings between the two clubs.
In the shootout, the Phoenix Coyotes only goal came form captain Shane Doan, while the Oilers received goals from Ales Hemsky and the game-winner by Radek Dvorak.
SHOOTOUT RESULTS (Edmonton shooting first)
Phoenix: Mike Comrie (0 for 1), Ladislav Nagy (0 for 2), Shane Doan (1 for 3), Oleg Saprykin (1 for 4), Jamie Lundmark (1 for 5) & Mike Johnson (1 for 6)
Edmonton: Fernando Pisani (0 for 1), Ryan Smyth (0 for 2), Ales Hemsky (1 for 3), Jarret Stoll (1 for 4), Raffi torres (1 for 5) & Radek Dvorak (2 for 6)