Jordan Eberle scored his 32nd of the season, while Ales Hemsky tallied 33 seconds later, vaulting the Oilers to a commanding 2-0 second-period lead; but the Coyotes stormed back, scoring twice in the third and twice more in the shootout en route to a 3-2 win Sunday night at Rexall Place.
1:25 into the game, Lennart Petrell and Keith Yandle engaged in a spirited tilt that lasted nearly a minute, landing a couple shots each (grapping, mostly) and bringing the sold-out Fan Appreciation Night crowd into the game early on.
Moments later and with the Oilers still shotless, Jordan Eberle was drilled in the numbers by Rostislav Klesa, causing No. 14's head to violently impact the glass behind Phoenix's net -- it did not result in a penalty, however, so Ryan Jones took matters into his own hands. For his trouble, he was assessed a roughing minor.
1:11 into the Coyotes' power-play, a holding the stick minor evened things out as the clubs began a 49-second 4-on-4 sequence. That passed, as did the Oilers' abbreviated man-advantage, without much of consequence directed on goal -- including a single shot, in the home side's case.
The Oilers registered their first shot 11:32 into the game. The orange and blue then vaulted to a more sustained attack as the period progressed, but scoring chances on both sides were scarce.
With 1:12 to play, the Oilers got the game's best chance when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Eberle and Jones hooked up to provide No. 28 with a prime one-timer in the slot. Despite having the wide-open chance, Jones' snap shot was smothered by Mike Smith, keeping the contest scoreless.
With 20 minutes in the books, Phoenix held a slim 12-9 edge on the shot clock.
The Coyotes broke up ice on a partial 2-on-1 near the three-minute mark. Martin Hanzal raced in and rifled a shot that clipped Devan Dubnyk in the mask; the sophomore showed no ill-effects, stopping the puck and indicating to the referee that he was okay.
The Oilers then countered with a strong push, attacking the visitors' cage with four quick shots courtesy of strong spade work by Ryan Smyth. Still, the game remained in a scoreless tie but the pace began to quicken.
Finally, on the Oilers' 17th shot, the icebreaker was scored. After quickly tagging up to get back onside, Jones and Eberle burst in on an odd-man break. No. 28 slid a pass across to Eberle at the doorstep, tipping the puck past Smith's outstretched pad and notching his 32nd of the season at 6:53.
Moments later (just 33 seconds, in fact), the home side extended to a 2-0 advantage. Jeff Petry's long-range wrister was redirected on goal by Ales Hemsky, but Smith came up with an athletic left pad stop. Not to be denied, Hemsky collected his own rebound and jammed it upstairs behind the dejected netminder.
The orange and blue's relentless attack continued as the 10-mark passed. Hemsky dipsy-doodled his way behind the Coyotes' D, setting up Teemu Hartikainen with an on-the-doorstep one-time opportunity. No. 56 connected, but Smith came up huge with a strong, side-to-side, right pad denial.
Phoenix peppered Dubnyk in the waning seconds, but he stood tall in preserving his club's 2-0 advantage heading into the third. Along with the lead on the scoreboard, the Oilers also held a 25-24 edge in shots.
Continuing a string that he began near the end of the second, Dubnyk stoned Phoenix's Lauri Korpokoski on a breakaway seconds into the third. The Oilers charged back and replied with a glorious scoring chance of their own when Jones and Nugent-Hopkins buzzed the net, but the rookie's shot on a rebound caught iron and was directed out of play.
Following a heads-up, no-look pass by Jones in the neutral zone, Hemsky and Gagner raced in on a 2-on-1. No. 83's initial shot was stopped, providing a rebound opportunity for Gagner at the crease's lip. With a quick backhand strike, the puck appeared to be tracking in, but Smith came up with a sensational right pad save to keep his team in it.
With 12:02 to play, the Coyotes tallied to make it a one-goal game. Amid a scramble in the slot, Nugent-Hopkins attempted a no-look, backhand clearing pass. It was picked off quickly by veteran Ray Whitney, who snapped a shot, bar-in, on the Coyotes' 27th shot.
Ryan Smyth sprung Hemsky on a breakway with about seven minutes to play, but Yandle pestered him all the way, disprupting the attempt with hooks and whacks that went uncalled, not allowing the Czech to get a quality shot on goal.
An ill-advised step-up by Petry in the neutral zone allowed the Coyotes to break back with numbers, and it ended up costing the home side. At 17:36, ex-Oiler Raffi Torres pounced on the chance, snapping a shot under the bar on Dubnyk to complete the comeback, making it a 2-2 game late.
Another ex-Oiler, Gilbert Brule, picked up on assist on the goal.
Yandle was assessed a kneeing minor 27 seconds into extra time, putting the Oilers' power-play to work with a 4-on-3 advantage. The sequence sputtered, looking unorganized for most and keeping the game in progress.
Just as Yandle's minor expired, he was sprung on a breakaway following a badly-timed Corey Potter pinch. The club's captain was the last man in chase, but he was called for hooking -- drawing a penalty shot. Phoenix's No. 3 slowly skated in on his opportunity, but Dubnyk made a huge save to give his team a chance.
Petry was assessed a hooking minor with 38.6 seconds to play, giving the Coyotes one more chance to win it with a power-play opportunity. Fortunately for the home side, the duration of overtime was successfully killed.
Through 65 minutes, the Coyotes had amassed a 42-38 lead in shots, but a shootout was required to determine a winner.
1. Jordan Eberle - post (backhand deke).
2. Sam Gagner - scores (forehand shot).
3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - stopped (forehand shot).
1. Mikkel Boedker - scores (backhand).
2. Ray Whitney - scores (backhand deke).
-- Ryan Dittrick, edmontonoilers.com - Follow me on Twitter | @ryandittrick