What started as a tight game in which David Perron scored twice, turned into an offensive run by Phoenix as the Edmonton Oilers fell victim to a 6-2 defeat courtesy of the hungry Coyotes.
"It's tragic," said Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins. "You come off the road, you're in the game, they get a flukey goal on the third one, you're still in the game and feeling pretty good about where you're at even going into the third period. Then that happens. It just tears your heart out, tears your guts out."
The Oilers took an early penalty with Perron sent to the box for interference at 1:48. Phoenix capitalized with 11 seconds remaining on that power play. Mikkel Boedker gathered in a rebound and spun around on the spot, sinking the puck behind Devan Dubnyk for the go-ahead goal at 3:37. Radim Vrbata and David Schlemko earned the assists.
Edmonton answered back at 9:51 of the first period. Mark Arcobello skated from the top of the circle in towards the slot. The Oilers forward left the puck for Perron on a pretty behind-the-back drop pass. Perron fired it from the slot, blocker side of Mike Smith, to tie the game at 1-1.
With the goal, Perron took the team lead in that category with 10 on the season. Arcobello's assist was his 11th of the season, tying Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon for the league lead in assists for NHL rookies.
After some scoring opportunities by the Oilers that failed to net a goal, the Coyotes capitalized on their own chance. Mike Ribeiro passed the puck, from just inside the boards across the face of Dubnyk, right on the tape of Vrbata at 6:58 of the second period. Vrbata, all alone backdoor, would give the Coyotes the 2-1 lead.
Phoenix would take a 3-1 lead at 7:56 when Shane Doan got a piece of a Ribiero floater from the point. The puck would slip past Dubnyk and Phoenix's Boedker recorded the second assist on the goal.
"We didn't simplify it, that's for sure," said Oilers Captain Andrew Ference. "A couple of our shifts after their goals, that's when you really have to just press 'reset' and it's imperative that, that next shift is a strong one where you just simplify it and get it out of your zone and into theirs. I think that we fell flat in that regard tonight."
Perron would draw the Oilers within one, with his second goal of the night, at 19:08 of the middle frame. Ales Hemsky found Perron out in front on the power play, from behind the net, and the Quebec native snuck the puck in short-side of Smith. That was Perron's 11th goal of the season. Hemsky and Taylor Hall earned the assists.
"We didn't back down," said Edmonton forward Jordan Eberle. "We scored late in the second to kind of give us hope. It's just coming out in the third, there's three or four areas that we just got out-battled. You can go to every goal and there's probably a play where they won a battle and got it to our net and scored. That's what it came down to. That's what pisses you off when you come into the room. It's not a technical thing, it's not a bouncing puck. You literally got out-battled and you can't have that. You're sick of coming into the room and finding reasons why we lost. We've got to find a way to win."
A play in the third period by the Coyotes would be upheld as a no goal, courtesy of a high stick.
However, the Coyotes goal at 4:46 of the third would stand. Ribeiro would tally his third point of the night and first goal of the game, with Doan and David Moss getting the assists. The goal would give Phoenix the 4-2 lead with just over 15 minutes to play.
Keith Yandle unleashed a big snapshot, scoring far-side on Dubnyk and pushing the Phoenix lead to three at 9:31.
"We really unraveled there in the third," said Oilers Taylor Hall. "Those two shifts killed us. It was a close game at one point, 3-2. We let it slip away from us. That seems to be the kind of them this year. We get behind and it's really hard to fight back in this league when you're behind. Our start of the game was okay but we're still kind of, we're not taking it to them at the start of games, we're kind of waiting to see what the game is going to be like and losing a lot of battles along the way."
Moss scored at 10:15 to give the Coyotes a comfortable 6-2 lead, assisted by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Jeff Halpern.
"Especially in the third period, that's about as bad as I've seen about three or four of our defencemen play this year, and it cost us," said Eakins.
The Oilers have traded wins and losses since their win against Florida on November 21.