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Under the Scope: Oilers at Coyotes

by Ryan Dittrick / Edmonton Oilers

With the visitors entering tonight's contest in the midst of a five-game losing skid, the sixth place Phoenix Coyotes were looking to take advantage of a fragile Oilers club that was in desperate need to end the slide. After establishing a 2-0 lead early in the second period, it appeared as though the home side was more than willing to extend Edmonton's struggle.

Shortly after Phoenix extended its lead to a pair early in the middle frame, J-F Jacques and the Oilers' fourth line responded to get Edmonton on the board and back in the game. Kurtis Foster's bullet from the point was deflected passed a doleful Ilya Bryzgalov to make it a 2-1 score.

As it turned out, Jacques' goal at 7:11 of the middle frame was the precursor to an eventful third period in the desert. A quick pair of goals only 1:08 apart by Taylor Hall and Linus Omark gave Edmonton the lead, only to be swiped away with a Scottie Upshall marker moments later.

In the game's waning moments, Hall powered down the wing where he found a streaking Dustin Penner in the slot. His pass connected, and so too did Penner's one-time attempt. With a screen being provided by captain Shawn Horcoff, the puck eluded Bryzgalov low on the glove side as the Oilers went up 4-3 with only 21.3 seconds on the clock.

With time dwindling and a heartbroken Coyotes squad on the ice, the Oilers killed the remaining few seconds of the game to snap the team's winless streak and begin the two-game road trip on a high note.

Devan Dubnyk made his second consecutive start, collecting 24 saves on the 27 shots he faced. Dubnyk has now pushed his personal record above the .500 mark (5-4-6) for the first time since November 27, 2010.

All you need to know and more as we go Under the Scope:

Phoenix was able to establish a 2-0 lead early in the second period, and it appeared as though control of the game had been attained by the home side. The Oilers, however, remained on the attack and were able to generate some quality scoring chances due to the work in the trenches. Specifically, the fourth line got things started with a tremendous energy shift that helped Edmonton get back in the game. A Kurtis Foster point shot was deflected by J-F Jacques and in, bringing the Oilers within one and energizing the bench as the comeback was officially underway.

34 The Oilers won only 34% of the draws tonight, succeeding on 18 of 53. Shawn Horcoff led his club with a 6-9, 40% outing in the faceoff dot.
10 Although the Oilers had a number of individual standouts this evening, it was a theme of offence by committee. In total, 10 different Oilers recorded at least one point.
2 The Oilers outshot the Coyotes by a 35-27 margin tonight. With the 4-3 victory, it marks only the second time this season that the Oilers have emerged victorious when outshooting their opponent (2-7-2).
18 Theo Peckham is tied for 18th in the NHL with 125 hits this season. The bruising blueliner added to his total tonight with a team-leading four.

Taylor Hall
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 E 4

Scottie Upshall
G A P +/- Shots
2 0 2 E 4

Linus Omark
G A P +/- Shots
1 0 1 E 4

Ilya Bryzgalov
35 31 4 59:46 .886

Devan Dubnyk
27 24 3 60:00 .889

Adrian Aucoin - D

  24:10 - 0P, E rating

Tom Gilbert - D

23:15 - 0P, +1 rating

Since being recalled to the Oilers, most fans have become familiar with the way Linus Omark can control the puck down low and work the boards, despite the size differential he faces with most NHL defencemen. Having said that, it was a role-reversal that led to the Oilers' third goal of the evening when Sam Gagner created an excellent cycle below the goal line. After gaining possession, Gagner made an incredible pass to Omark who was streaking down the slot. After meeting the puck at the lip of the crease, Omark one-timed the puck in emphatic fashion to put the Oilers ahead 3-2.

Taylor Hall, once again, proved to be a force offensively as the night progressed. Hall's tying goal at 2:56 of the third helped to quell negative vibes from the team's inefficient power-play of late, in addition to bringing the Oilers on even terms with his 16th tally of the campaign. At the end of the night, Hall collected one goal, one assist, four shots on goal, and complement of two blocked shots to showcase his defensive responsibility. Overall, a fantastic evening for the 19-year old rookie.

In his second game since returning from an extended injury absence, Shawn Horcoff had a terrific outing as he looks to bounce back to his early-season form. In his surprisingly low 19:48 of ice-time, Horcoff collected two assists and helped guide his wingers to a defensively responsible evening. Although they were not registered on the score-sheet, Horcoff was also involved with several other scoring chances earlier in the game to help spark the team's offensive attack. It would appear, quite clearly, that the captain is back.

Since his recall from the Oklahoma City Barons, defenceman Jeff Petry has acquitted himself well on a blueline that desperately required a leader when Ryan Whitney went down. Petry's physical game has been a pleasant surprise, as he adds a new dimension to an already phenomenal raw skill-set. With 7:04 remaining in the second period, Petry lined up Coyotes forward Sami Lepisto who entered the zone with his head down. Petry made solid shoulder-to-chest contact as he leveled his man to the ice.

Coming into tonight, Phoenix had established an impressive 19-0-2 record when leading after 40 minutes. With the Oilers' three-goal outburst in the final frame, that record now contains its first regulation loss of the season.

"I've liked our game for a while now, and tonight we finally got a result that favours us. The one thing that was a big part of our game and has been for quite a while was effort, and tonight we were rewarded with it because we were able to sustain it for 60 minutes."

-  Head Coach Tom Renney on the win over Phoenix

Wednesday, January 26 at Dallas
  5:30pm MT (TSN / 630 CHED)

After snapping the five-game winless skid, Edmonton travels to Dallas in the team's final game before the All-Star Break.

Author: Ryan Dittrick |

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