First period goals by Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Ray Whitney put the home side in a 2-0 hole and, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins brought his club a little closer with a third-period tally, Shane Doan ended the Oilers' comeback try with a late goal to seal a 3-1 Phoenix victory on Saturday afternoon at Rexall Place.
The Oilers lept out to an early shot advantage, but the Coyotes made their second one count with a goal. Oliver Ekman-Larsson's long-range point shot was tracking wide, but it was redirected through Devan Dubnyk when Jeff Petry's midsection acted as the tipping point at 5:43.
The visitors looked to make it a 2-0 lead 34 seconds later and, while the call on the ice appeared to be a goal, the whistle had blown as the biscuit was tucked under the goalie for a quick second.
Needing a spark, the Oilers broke up-ice on a 2-on-1 moments later, but Taylor Hall's attempted pass across to Ales Hemsky was niftily broken up by a sliding Kieth Yandle, disrupting the chance and keeping his team's early lead intact.
With 7:06 to play, Darcy Hordichuk continued to rough it up, dropping the mitts with Phoenix's Paul Bissonnette. Both sides traded punches for nearly a minute, earning a draw in a spirited heavyweight tilt.
Ben Eager was assessed an erroneous tripping minor at 14:37 when he brushed by the Coyotes netminder, causing him to dive and crumble to the ice. Fortunately for the home side, not a single shot was added to the visitors' total on the advantage, keeping the 1-0 score on the board.
With just 1:14 to play, Ray Whitney charged down the wing and dance around Ryan Whitney, sliding a backhand shot -- in the he'd-like-to-have-that-one-back category -- through Dubnyk to put the Coyotes up 2-0 on their sixth shot.
Springing ahead on another 2-on-1 opportunity, Hall couldn't make the pass happen, but he did draw a penalty when Chris Summers hooked the sophomore as he attempted to corral the loose puck. Much like the Coyotes' earlier try, the OIlers couldn't generate a shot, much less a goal, as the two-goal disadvantage remained.
Phoenix registered the period's first shot 6:29 in when Petry couldn't handle a Sam Gagner pass at the blueline, sending the Coyotes in on an odd-man rush. The puck eventually made its way onto the stick of Radim Vrbata, who one-timed a shot on his natural wing, but Dubnyk made a solid glove snatch to keep the shooter at bay.
The teams traded rushes throughout the rest of the period, but shots and scoring chances were scarce as the Oilers headed into the locker room in a 2-0 deficit, but up 15-13 in shots.
As the period's midway point approached, shots continued to be even, 16-16. But on the home side's 17th attempt, they made good. Ales Hemsky burst up the wing, curled and dished the puck into the slot where an awaiting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins one-touched it past Smith's blocker side at 8:28.
With 6:10 to play, Tom Gilbert made a sensational seeing-eye pass to a wide-open Hemsky at the doorstep. With no one in sight, No. 83 tried to wait out Smith, but his up-high attempt was smothered by the 'tender.
With the Oilers pressing late, Phoenix all but ended the orange and blue's comeback hopes when Shane Doan was sprung up-ice on a partial 3-on-1 chance. The veteran was looking shot all the way, as he cocked his weapon and unleashed a wicked snapshot that beat Dubnyk bar-in, glove-side at 17:32.
Down by two once more, the Oilers pulled Dubnyk for an extra-attacker with 1:38 to play. Despite a late push, the home side was unable to get anything more on the scoreboard as the visitors cruised to a 3-1 win.
Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick