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Coyotes rally, beat Oilers in overtime

by Jerry Brown

GLENDALE Ariz. - Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle has endured a few sleepless nights in the days leading up to the selection of the United States' roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He used Tuesday night to make a final impression.

Yandle scored two goals, including the game-winner with 6.5 seconds left in overtime, and set up the game-tying goal by Mikkel Boedker with 1:10 left in regulation as the Coyotes roared by from another multi-goal deficit and beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 Tuesday night.

"I've lost a bit of sleep thinking about this. I really want to be a part of Team USA and I think I've shown I've played my best to show what I can bring to the team," said Yandle, who has 27 points in 39 games.

"Antoine Vermette said the other day, 'It's your last day to showcase.' I don't know how much of the team has been picked or whatever it is. All I can do is hope I get the call now. It would be such an honor."

The Coyotes have played a franchise-record six straight overtime games, winning for just the second time during that run. But their dominance of Edmonton continues: Phoenix is 14-1-2 in its past 17 games against the Oilers, including 3-0-0 this season.

After Phoenix killed a penalty in overtime, Yandle took the puck from Edmonton's Jordan Eberle in his own zone, raced down the ice and with the puck on edge and Anton Belov on his back, he floated a shot over ex-Coyote Ilya Bryzgalov to ring in the New Year on a happy note for an overflow crowd of 17,416 at Arena.

"I don't know if it worked out for my benefit to have to beat that puck down the whole way. When you get that close to the net you just want to get anything at it and I was able to get it in the air," said Yandle, who was robbed on two other occasions when he tested Bryzgalov low to the glove side. "We know what a good goalie Bryz is from his time here. He made huge saves for them and he kept their team in there early when we were all over the net."

Taylor Hall assisted on all three Edmonton goals, by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, David Perron and Justin Schultz. Bryzgalov had been 9-2-0 against the Coyotes with a 1.96 goals-against average and 2-0-0 since he left after the 2010-11 season. But his 40 saves wasn't enough this time.

"Bryz played so well for us tonight and for us to let him down like that it isn't great," Hall said. "We need to make sure when a goalie plays like that for us he ends up getting the win."

The Coyotes have 14 points this season in games where they have trailed by two or more goals, the most in the NHL. And three nights after rallying from 2-0 down in Anaheim to steal a point against the Ducks, Phoenix was back in a familiar hole down 3-1 in the second period to take the steam out of the New Year's Eve crowd.

"We would much rather win in regulation, that's for sure," said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett after his team won for just the second time in eight home games after a 9-0-1 start in Glendale. "We talk about scratching and clawing, doing everything you can to get points in the regular season. Some games are a little more character-building than others."

Struggling Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was chased after allowing three goals on 10 shots and has won three of his last 14 starts (3-6-5). Backup Thomas Greiss stopped all 15 shots he faced in relief, and was off the ice for a sixth attacker when Yandle returned a pass from Boedker to force overtime - again.

The Coyotes dominated the first period, but didn't have much to show for it. Phoenix had 10 shots in the first four minutes and 21 for the period, four shy of the franchise record. But Bryzgalov kept the Oilers in the game with a variety of saves.

"Terrible period," Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said. "We stood around and watched them play."

Phoenix broke through at 10:59 when Yandle ran down his own errant pass, curled into the right circle and beat Bryzgalov over the blocker with a wrist shot. Yandle extended his point streak to three games.

The Coyotes kept firing away, but after going without a shot for more than 14 minutes, Edmonton got even on an innocent-looking play. Hall walked the puck out of the corner but lost it off his stick. Nugent-Hopkins picked it up and, with his back to the net, slid a backhander that trickled through Smith at 18:50 for his 11th goal.

Edmonton looked much sharper at the start of the second period. On the first shift, Hall found Perron behind Phoenix defenseman Connor Murphy and put a 100-foot pass right on his tape. Perron beat Smith cleanly with a wrist shot to the stick side for his 17th goal of the season and fourth in three games against the Coyotes.

Hall got his third point at 6:44 when he curled inside the Phoenix blue line and hit Schultz in the slot for a shot that beat Smith between the pads for his fourth goal -- and the Oilers had the Coyotes on their heels.

Smith, who had been 7-0-1 against the Oilers since coming to the Coyotes, was pulled for Greiss.

"The first period wasn't great at all but we managed to find our game and get the lead," Hall said. "Our line is playing well, We were in their end a lot. We did a lot of good things but it's all for nothing."

The Coyotes got within 3-2 at 12:05 when Bryzgalov came off the left post just enough for Tim Kennedy's shot from beyond to goal line to bank off his skate and squeeze inside the left post.

It stayed that way until the Coyotes pulled Greiss and scored with a sixth attacker for the second straight game. Boedker pushed the puck to Yandle, who carried the puck to the goal line before passing back to Boedker, who hit an open net for his 11th goal, matching his career high.

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