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GAME STORY: Coyotes 2, Oilers 1

The Oilers piled up the shots against the Coyotes but couldn't beat Mike Smith enough in a 2-1 home loss

by Chris Wescott @TheChrisWescott / EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer

Video: OILERS TODAY | Oilers vs. Coyotes Post-Game

EDMONTON, AB - Mike Smith was the difference, making 41 saves for the Arizona Coyotes as they downed the Oilers 2-1 and stretched their point streak against the Oil to 25 straight games.

In the end, Edmonton had plenty of chances but they couldn't put the biscuit in the basket enough to come away with two points.

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"We had plenty of chances to win, plenty of chances," said Oilers Head Coach Todd McLellan. "Their goaltender won them the game tonight in my opinion and we didn't find a way to get one across the line on some of our real good opportunities."

Some of those opportunities came in the waning minutes of the game, in which the Oilers cycled the puck and peppered Smith. The breaks just weren't there for the orange and blue.

"It's hard, especially with the way our offence has been rolling," said Oilers winger Matt Hendricks. "We kind of got a little flat against Arizona, but that's the way they play and you've got to give Smith credit. He's played two really good games against us."

Edmonton has not beaten the Coyotes in regulation at home since November 23, 2009.

"When we give up points we're going to be upset at ourselves, especially on home ice," said Hendricks. "They're a tough team. They've played us tough since I've been here and much longer than that. Give that team credit."

Jamie McGinn scored the go-ahead goal with 3:44 left in the game, after Edmonton had battled back to tie it up earlier in the period.

"We worked so hard to get that goal," said Oilers winger Milan Lucic, who scored the equalizer. "Unfortunately, they were able to get one late to beat us. You can get frustrated all you want but at the end of the day, you've got to look at the stats, look at the effort and if we play like that most nights we're giving ourselves a pretty good chance to win.

Video: EDM Recap: Lucic tallies goal in 2-1 loss to Coyotes

"It just comes down to bearing down and not letting the other goalie be the best player on the other team. That tells the story of today's game. Smith was their best player and we weren't able to get enough by him."

The Oilers had a 3-on-1 rush early in the game but could not capitalize on the opportunity. Connor McDavid shot the puck on Mike Smith but it rolled up out of harm's way, at 3:41.

That wasn't the only offensive pressure Edmonton generated. They were able to take a 13-6 edge in shots to the dressing room after the opening frame. However, the Oilers weren't the first team to light the lamp.

With 3:50 remaining in the first, a steep angle shot from the wall took a positive bounce for the Coyotes and slipped past Cam Talbot to put Edmonton down 1-0, despite them leading in shots 11-5 at the time. Oilers defenceman Kris Russell got a piece of it in front and the bad-luck goal put his team behind by one. Radim Vrbata was credited with the opening marker.

Talbot made a big save 3:37 into the second period, gloving down Martin Hanzal's shot from on the doorstep. The tight battle continued to rage as Mark Letestu was denied on a partial shorthanded break with just under five minutes to play in the second.

With 1:09 remaining in the middle frame, Oilers defenceman Adam Larsson sacrificed his body and dropped to one knee in front of Talbot to shield the net from a Coyotes scoring chance. The puck was smothered and Edmonton escaped from the first 40 minutes down by just one.

Lucic netted the equalizer at 10:39 of the third, getting a piece of McDavid's shot from the point. Leon Draisaitl recorded an assist as well.

After McGinn's goal, the Oilers had a flurry of chances late in the game but Smith turned them away.

"It's a really tough game for us," said Oilers defenceman Oscar Klefbom. "These are the games we've got to win if we're going to make the playoffs."

Edmonton (12-9-2) next hosts Toronto on Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. MT.

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