EDMONTON, AB -
The Edmonton Oilers rallied to pull within one in the third period, however they dug a hole that was too deep to overcome and dropped a 4-3 decision to the Coyotes and moved their record against Phoenix to 0-3-1 this season.
“We’re a team, and we’ve been a team like this for a while, that we cannot give up those plays like that,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “If we make a mistake, and it’s not even huge drastic mistake, it finds a way in our net. Now that being said, you get down in a game like that and it can go one way or another. The guys can dig their heels in and fight for each other and support each other, or the game can go really badly. They came out and got the fourth goal and our guys hung in with it, which is a great sign but it’s disappointing that you lose a game in three minutes.”
Mikkel Boedker walked in on the right wing and sniped a beautiful shot far side of Oilers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov at 14:17 of the opening frame to give the visitors the 1-0 lead. Boedker’s goal was his 15th goal of the season, which tied him for the team lead with Antoine Vermette.
With 2:50 remaining in the first period, the Coyotes took advantage of a Taylor Hall roughing penalty and took a 2-0 lead on the power play. Martin Hanzal set up Radim Vrbata in front of the net and the Coyote found twine with a one-timer. Mike Ribeiro earned the secondary assist.
It didn’t take much longer for the Oilers to go down by three goals. Derek Morris struck gold with his shot from the top of the circle and past the Oilers netminder, with 1:41 left on the clock in the first period.
Things continued to spiral for the Oilers as Ribeiro scored three minutes into the second period. The Coyotes took the 4-0 lead with just 16 shots on net. David Moss and goaltender Mike Smith earned the assists.
Then came the rally.
“Not our two best periods that we’ve had, but I thought we battled hard in the third period and we found a way to bring some energy and bring some life back to our game and we’ve got to try to do that for 60 minutes,” said Oilers centre Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Matt Hendricks tipped in a Ryan Jones centring pass directly off an offensive zone draw at 13:17 of the middle frame. The assist to Ryan Jones was his 100th career NHL point and the Oilers cut the Coyotes lead to three.
“I thought we rebounded fairly well, but it’s happened all too often that we wait until we get down in order to put the pressure on,” said Jones. “It almost seems like we put ourselves in a situation where we have nothing to lose and we start playing well. We’ve got to come out like that right from the start, obviously.”
That goal was Hendricks’ first as an Oiler after being acquired from Nashville in a trade on January 15.
“It’s exciting,” Hendricks said. “Any time when you add a little energy to the group and do that, it’s a lot of fun. For Jonesy to get his hundredth point on it, it’s kind of unique and kind of special.”
The Oilers completed a much better second period than their first and by the 40 minute mark of the game, was outshooting Phoenix 25-20.
In the third, David Perron showed off some silky smooth moves, dangling through the Phoenix defence and scoring a beautiful goal to cut the lead to two. The goal, scored at 1:50 of the third, was Perron’s 19th of the season and gave him the team high in that category. Perron is now two back of his career best of 21 in 2011-2012.
Corey Potter and Martin Marincin earned the assists. The assist was Marincin’s first-career NHL point.
“I think once we were able to get out of our zone, we started getting pucks deep and realizing that we’re a pressure team,” Hendricks said. “We’ve got to use our assets which are skating and hard work. Once we started doing that, we started getting them to turn pucks over and it was hard for them to get out of the zone. You could just see the table kind of tilt for us, in favour of the Oil.”
At 7:50 of the third period, Jordan Eberle worked his way in on the Phoenix net and then set up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the slot and the centre found twine. Taylor Hall earned the secondary assist and the Oilers were down just 4-3.
Despite a lot of pressure late in the game, the Coyotes held on to stymie the Oilers comeback.
Oilers Captain Andrew Ference left the game with a head injury and did not return.