|Shawn Horcoff attempts to get the puck past Coyotes netminder Mikael Tellqvist during Edmonton's pre-Christmas battle with Phoenix on Monday, Dec. 22, 2008. (Photo by Andy Devlin/EOHC).|
Santa was smiling on Edmonton Monday night. Despite squandering an early two-goal lead, the Oilers battled back with a pair of third-period goals -- including the game-winner by Sheldon Souray -- to beat the Coyotes 4-2. Zack Stortini, Marc Pouliot, and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Edmonton, while Dwayne Roloson stopped 27 shots for the pre-holiday victory.
From opening puck drop, the feisty Oilers pounced on the visiting Coyotes and their goalie Mikael Tellqvist. Only 4:26 into the contest, agitators Kyle Brodziak and Jason Strudwick helped tough guy Zack Stortini capitalize on a chaotic crease as Stortini tapped the puck across the line to give the Oil an early 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later, Marc Pouliot made it 2-0. After busting up the wing, Pouliot snapped the puck past Tellqvist to register his fifth of the season on the Oilers' fifth shot of the game.
Three consecutive Phoenix penalties offered Edmonton the game's first powerplays, but the man-advantages -- including a 16-second five-on-three -- failed to result in a third unanswered goal.
The Coyotes went on the attack later in the frame but were unable to beat Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson with six first-period attempts. A late slashing infraction to Sam Gagner put Phoenix on the powerplay heading into the second period.
The Oilers killed Gagner's penalty but were then sent back on the PK thanks to a tripping minor to Steve Staios at 4:41. Although the Coyotes assumed an 11-10 shot lead on that second man-advantage, Roloson kept the visitors off the board heading into the period's midway point.
At 11:26, Strudwick took exception to a hit delivered by Phoenix's Daniel Carcillo and convinced the scrapper to tango at center ice. Strudwick's long reach gave him the advantage, and the lengthy battle roamed into the visitors' zone and then back to the opposite blue line before the linesmen pulled apart the pair.
One minute after fighting majors were assessed, Phoenix made their mark on the scoreboard. Poised at the corner of Roloson's crease, Martin Hanzal swiped the puck into the mesh to get the Coyotes back within one. Then with less than three minutes on the clock and Ethan Moreau in the penalty box for slashing, Enver Lisin snapped a wrist shot past Roloson to tie the game at two.
Although a late tripping minor to Kurt Sauer put the visitors back on the penalty kill to end the period, Phoenix carried a 23-14 shot lead heading into the final frame.
31 seconds into the third, Viktor Tikhonov earned four minutes for drawing blood from Erik Cole with a high stick, offering the Oilers a two-man advantage for 58 seconds. Only 13 seconds into the five-on-three, Sheldon Souray directed his scary slapshot on the Coyotes net and -- boom goes the dynamite! -- the Oilers went up 3-2.
Back-to-back Oilers penalties kept the Coyotes on the offensive in the middle part of the period, but Roloson resisted the visitors as they approached 30 shots.
In the game's final four minutes, a pair of Phoenix infractions gave Edmonton their third two-man-advantage of the night. The Coyotes persevered through most of the two minutes but with 18 seconds left in the PK, Ales Hemsky slipped a cross-crease pass to Andrew Cogliano, who redirected it into the open net to give the Oilers a 4-2 lead.
A trio of game-ending penalties and an open Coyotes net failed to result in additional scoring and the Oilers secured themselves -- and their fans -- a very merry Christmas by holding on for a 4-2 win.