Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle combined to score seven second-period points, propelling the Oilers to a dominant 3-0 lead. Ray Whitney and Shane Doan responded for the visitors, but Nikolai Khabibulin shut the door when he was needed, stopping 18 of 20 Coyotes shots in the team's 3-2 victory at Rexall Place.
Carrying over a strong outing vs. Calgary this past Saturday, Nikolai Khabibulin looked sharp in the game's early-going, making two point-blank saves only 1:15 in.
Near the eight-minute mark, Ryan Jones broke in on a two-on-one with Antti Tyrvainen. Jones' quick wrister was stopped, Tyrvainen pounced on the rebound but Coyotes netminder Mike Smith turned that one away, too.
As the midway point of the period passed, the Oilers held a slim 5-4 edge in shots, but neither team was able to orchestrate much in the attack end.
With 3:27 remaining in the period, the Oilers went to the power-play when Oliver Ekman-Larsson was assessed a holding minor.
1:17 into the advantage, Taylor Hall soared down the wing, driving the net and putting a shot on Smith. While the 2010 No. 1 overall pick was denied, careening into the end-boards in the process, 2011's selection was not. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins pounced on the rebound, sliding the puck past the Phoenix netminder for the game's icebreaker.
1:10 into the second, the Oilers' dynamic trio struck once more. Nugent-Hopkins sped down the near side, sliding a pass across to a streaking Hall. No. 4 wasted little time in blasting the puck upstairs, establishing a 2-0 Oilers lead.
Holding a commanding 16-9 lead on the shot clock, Edmonton went back to the power-play at 4:17 when Derek Morris was charged for slashing. Nugent-Hopkins, Hall and Jordan Eberle choreographed several high-quality chances, but were unable to solve Smith a third time.
They did eventually, mind you. With 6:11 to play, Nugent-Hopkins sliced into the Coyotes zone, setting up Hall with a clear lane on goal. The 6'1", 194-pound winger snapped a bullet glove-side, denting the twine and putting the Oilers up 3-0 on the team's 23rd shot.
Eight seconds later, the Coyotes were put on the power-play when Eric Belanger was called for high-sticking. That opportunity passed without incident (and a Coyotes shot), allowing the Oilers' lead to remain on the board.
Edmonton's lead was tested once again at 17:58 when Tom Gilbert was sent off to serve an intereference minor, and this time Phoenix made good. Sloppy coverage, combined with a heads-up, door-step appearance by Ray Whitney allowed the veteran winger to cash, cutting the Oilers' lead to a 3-1 tally.
With 40 minutes expired, Edmonton continued to lead by that same score and was in possession of a dominant 24-13 advantage in shots.
By the period's 14-minute mark TV timeout, the Oilers and Coyotes each added a pair of shots, but nothing came of the chances.
With 10:49 on the clock, Coyotes rearguard Adrian Aucoin was assessed a cross-checking minor, putting the lethal Oilers back on the power-play. The Oilers added another shot, but another marker could not be recorded.
At 11:46, the man-advantage tables turned. Hall etched the scoresheet once more, but with a minor penalty for tripping. Like the Oilers' previous opportunity, chances were scarce and the 3-1 score remained.
Antti Tyrvainen was also called, putting the Coyotes back on the power-play with 6:14 on the clock. 46 seconds into the chance, Shane Doan brought Phoenix within one. A chaotic, tic-tac-toe sequence helped the puck land on the veteran's stick; snapping the puck upstairs on Khabibulin, No. 19 cut the score to a 3-2 Oilers edge.
With only 1:57 to play, the Coyotes' comeback quest stalled. Ray Whitney was called for boarding, sending the Oilers to their fourth power-play. The Phoenix 'tender was pulled with 30 seconds to play, but Edmonton held off the Coyotes' push, winning 3-2 as time ticked away.
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