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Under the Scope: Oilers vs. Coyotes

by Karmela Arocena / Edmonton Oilers

After spending two weeks away from Rexall Place on a five-game road trip, the Oilers returned to home ice to play the Phoenix Coyotes.  The Oilers were looking for some luck of the Irish in their St. Patrick's Day match-up, but were unable to muster up enough to beat the visitng team, eventually falling 3-1.

The opening frame saw the Oilers start off strong, outshooting their opponents 9-1 through the first half of the period.  However, a penalty to Ryan Jones saw the momentum shift to Phoenix as they started to catch-up in shots with the man advantage.  The Coyotes' pressure didn't let up as a late goal by Lee Stempniak in the last minute of the frame saw the Oilers go down 1-0.

The second period didn't fare any better for the home team as they found themselves down 2-0 after 40 minutes after Ray Whitney scored his 14th goal of the season.

The Oilers got close in the third with a powerplay goal from Magnus Paajarvi, but Phoenix later restored their two goal lead after a weak penalty call sent Linus Omark off for diving. The Coyotes later scored on the ensuing powerplay. While the Oilers continued to pressure the Coyotes, they were unable to score, eventually losing the game 3-1.

Nikolai Khabibulin was in goal for the home team, making 14 saves on the 17 shots he faced.

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

Game Recap | Oilers This Week  | Post-Game Interviews Highlights  |  Post-Game Audio

Despite being down 2-0 heading into the final frame, the Oilers came close to making it an even game when Paajarvi scored a powerplay goal early in the third.  The Oilers continued to press for the tying goal, and they had come close many times.  However, Omark was assessed a diving penalty on a poor call at 11:23 of the third, and the Coyotes found themselves up a man.  Vrbata promptly scored for the Coyotes, restoring the visitor's two goal lead.  Without enough time left to play, the Oilers fell 3-1 to the desert dogs.

49 Edmonton ended the night with a 49% success rate in the faceoff circle. Chris Vande Velde, in his first NHL game, recorded a respectable 75% efficiency rate by going 3 for 4.
9 An anemic powerplay continues to be a problem with the Oilers.  With 9 powerplay opportunities, the Oilers were only able to capitalize on one of those chances. The 11% rate on the PP was something that could have been improved.
7 With Teemu Hartikainen and Chris Vande Velde playing in their first NHL games tonight, 7 players have now played their first NHL game as an Oiler this season.
4 Of the Oilers' five penalties of the night, four of them were slashing calls.

Ilya Bryzgalov
36 35 1 60:00 .972

Ray Whitney
G A P +/- Shots
1 1 2 +1 1

Liam Reddox
G A P +/- Shots
0 0 0 -1 4

Ilya Bryzgalov
36 35 1 60:00 .972

Nikolai Khabibulin
17 14 3 60:00 .824

Vernon Fiddler - D

21:26 - 0P, E rating

Tom Gilbert - D

22:33 - 0P, -1 rating

Down 2-0 going into the third meant the Oilers still had some life if they could capitalize on their chances.  Magnus Paajarvi did just that on the powerplay at 6:05 of the third when he took a beauty pass from countryman Linus Omark and one-timed a a seeing-eye shot past Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to break the shutout and make it 2-1.

With the injuries to Sam Gagner, Ales Hemsky, and Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle took over as the Oilers' active leading scorer.  The rookie impressed tonight by making numerous chances, only to be stymied by the excellent play of Ilya Bryzgalov.  Nonetheless, Eberle recorded six shots on the night, the most of anyone on the team, laid down two hits, and had three takeaways.

In his first NHL game, Teemu Hartikainen certainly didn't disappoint.  In the third period, he recorded his first NHL point with the second assist on the Oilers' only goal.  He also played with a physical edge, evident in the solid hit he laid on Taylor Pyatt at 18:22 of the first.  He ended the night with 15:19 minutes of ice-time and a respectable even +/- rating.

Just after scoring their first and only goal of the night, the Oilers started to answer back with increased pressure.  One of the ways they kept the heat on was by putting more hits to the body.  Kurtis Foster did just that, when he laid a solid hit on Michal Roszival into the corner soon after Paajarvi made the score 2-1.

With tonight's loss, the Oilers' record when outshooting their opponent is now 4-12-2.  Tonight they outshot the Phoenix Coyotes 36 - 17, more than 2:1 ratio, but still weren't able to secure the win.

"It was an average game, but of course I was so nervous before the game. But when I started playing, getting so much ice-time and getting inside the game, I got a few hits and I got one assist so it's a good start for me, but I can play better."

Teemu Hartikainen on hist first game in the NHL

Saturday, March 19 vs. Avalanche
8:00pm MDT (CBC / 630 CHED)

The Oilers jump right back into action Saturday night with a game against the Colorado Avalanche. The Hockey Night in Canada game can be seen on CBC at 8:00pm MDT.

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