The Edmonton Oilers were home Thursday night to play the Phoenix Coyotes. The Oilers are riding a 3 game winning streak while the desert dogs are riding a 5 game winning streak.
Ilja Bryzgalov and Mathieu Garon were the starting goaltenders for the game.
The teams began the game very cautious as the puck was skated from end to end with neither team able to get a shot off. Finally at 1:47 Fernando Pisani and Ethan Moreau crossed at the Coyotes blueline and a quick snapshot by Moreau fools Bryzgalov and it is 1-0 Oilers. That shot went between the body and arm on that quick shot and was the first shot of the game.
Only 28 seconds later the Oilers were back into the Coyotes zone and Robert Nilsson centered a pass to Kyle Brodziak and he found the back of the net with a backhand. 2-0 Oilers. That was the kind of start the Oilers needed against one of the NHL’s hottest teams.
The Coyotes decided to get into the game and at 3:45 as it was Mike York centering the puck to Steven Reinprecht and Garon made a fantastic save. He was stretched post to post on that one.
At 5:25 the Oilers had a great chance to increase their lead as Shawn Horcoff interceped a pass by Keith Ballard and Ballard is forced to hook him and take the penalty. The Oilers second powerplay unit did a good job moving the puck around the Coyotes zone and it was Cogliano with a one-timer that Bryzgalov made a big save on. The Oilers first powerplay unit came out and continued the puck possession in the Coyotes zone but they too were unable to beat Bryzgalov.
The Oilers continued the pressure and Joel Perrault hit Zach Stortini from behind in the corner with no call. The Oilers continued to press and during a melee in front of the Coyotes net, Brodziak bangs the rebound into the net. Unfortunately for the Oilers the back referee lost sight of the puck and blew the play dead. The Oilers picked up a 4 minute powerplay from the scrum in front of the net with 10:50 to go as Nick Boynton was given the gate.
36 seconds into the powerplay it was Sheldon Souray with a rocket from the point into the back of the net. Bryzgalov didn’t see that one as Dustin Penner was screening in front. 3-0 Oilers. The Oilers continued pressure with 2 minutes remaining in the powerplay. The Coyotes finally got the puck out of the zone and on the play Dick Tarnstrom was called for slashing.
After 55 seconds of 4 on 4 action the Coyotes went on a 1:05 powerplay of their own. The Coyotes continued to have problems as Marty Reasoner was left alone in front of the Coyotes net and only a great glove save by Bryzgalov kept the score at 3-0. The Oilers killed the penalty but the Coyotes continued with their best pressure of the period.
With six minutes to go all the pressure by the dogs resulted in a quick one-timer by Fredrik Sjostrom that Garon was force to flash the leather on and make a great glove save. The ensuing face off the Coyotes continued to keep pressing the Oilers with lots of puck possession in the Oiler’s zone but they were unable to get any good shots on goal.
The teams then spent the next 3 minutes exchanging end to end chances with nothing really spectacular happening. With 1:45 to go in the period, Cogliano broke into the Coyotes zone and took a high stick to the face by Joel Perrault. The Oilers would finish the period with the power play unless they scored.
On the power Ales Hemsky loses the puck at the Coyote’s blueline and Shane Doan had a breakaway from center ice in and as he went to shoot he was slashed across the hand by Sheldon Souray. Doan was given a penalty shot on the play plus Souray was assessed a 5 minute major for slashing plus a game misconduct. On the penalty shot it was Mr. Shootout, Mathieu Garon making a poke check to stop Doan. Garon is now 23 saves on 25 chances in shootouts this year.
The period finished with 4 on 4 action and neither team able to do any more damage before the buzzer ended a great period for the Oilers. Shots in the period favoured the Coyotes 13-10.
The second period started with 13 seconds of 4 on 4. The Coyotes then had just over 3 minutes of a power play. The Coyotes started the power play with some good possession but the Oiler penalty killers did a good job of clearing the area. With 1:40 to go on the powerplay Mathieu Garon was called upon to make a great save on a one-timer by Keith Yandle.
The Oilers managed to kill the penalty but a huge error by the Oiler’s coaching staff. There was no one sitting in the penalty box for the Oilers when the time expired so they had to play an additional 20 seconds short-handed. Marty Reasoner iced the puck in a smart move in order to get the extra player back on the ice.
5:30 gone and Cogliano had a great chance to increase the lead as he used his speed to blow by the Coyote defenders but Bryzgalov was able to make the save.
The teams then spent several minutes playing end to end with no good scoring chances. With 11:20 to go Nick Boynton is set up at the point for a clear one-timer and Mathieu Garon again flashed the leather and made the big glove save.
With 9:28 gone Nilsson steals the puck from Derek Morris and the deflected puck goes to Brodziak who fed it forward to Nilsson and he made no mistake on the 2 on 0 break. 4-0 Oilers. That goal was totally against the flow of play and it chased Ilja Bryzgalov to the bench to be replaced by Mikael Tellqvist.
With 8:25 gone the Oilers tested Tellqvist for the first time as Reasoner stole the puck and got a quick shot off. On the ensuing play it was Perrault getting called for a hold on Gagner. The Oiler powerplay did a good job of controlling the puck in the Coyote’s zone but all they got for it was three wide shots from the point by Stoll and Tarnstrom. The Coyotes were able to kill the penalty.
5 Minutes to go and Nilsson broke into the Coyote’s zone and as he cut to the middle, Nick Boynton caught him with a deliberate elbow that escapes punishment. Nilsson was shaken up on the play and was slow getting to the bench.
The Coyotes were finally rewarded for their hard work with 3:27 to go as Shane Doan found Peter Mueller at the right of the net and his no look pass found an open Keith Ballard across the net and he managed to beat an outstretched Garon. 4-1 Oilers.
The Oilers came right back off the face-off and Tellqvist was forced to make 2 big save, first off a point shot from Gilbert and then the rebound by Stoll. Gagner and Perrault picked up minor penalties for roughing on the play.
The teams played some 4 on 4 with the penalties and the Oilers made the most of it. 3 Coyotes went to Horcoff on the right boards and the Oiler’s all-star found a wide open Denis Grebeshkov at the far side of the net and he tapped home his first NHL goal. 5-1 Oilers at 18:19 and Wayne Gretzky looked awfully upset with the lack of discipline by his team.
The period ended with little in the way of any further chances and the Oilers leading 5-1. Shots in the period favoured the Oilers 11-10.
The Coyotes started the third period with some immense pressure that the Oilers were able to withstand. The Oilers then broke out and into the Coyote’s zone and Penner cut up the middle and let a quick snap shot go that Tellqvist made a big save on. Horcoff then rifled the rebound and Keith Ballard dropped in front of that blast to block the shot. Ballard went to the bench slowly after that.
The Oilers got another chance to increase their lead at 4:24 as Tom Gilbert took a shot from the high slot that Tellqvist had to be quick to save with all sorts of traffic in front.
6 minutes gone and the Coyotes had a good chance as Weller stepped into a shot at the point but his low drive was just wide of the far post.
Following a long break in the action to change a piece of glass, the Coyotes closed the lead to 5-2 when Shane Doan sets up Boynton at the point and his shot somehow found a hole between the feet of Garon. There was still 13 minutes left for the Desert Dogs to close the gap further.
11 minutes to go and the Oilers came close again as again it was Cogliano trying to split the defenders with his speed. 10 minutes to go and Gagner sprung Reasoner on a breakaway from the Oilers blueline but Tellqvist made the save to keep it a 3 goal game.
The game then got sloppy for a couple of minutes as both teams had a hard time putting more than 1 pass together and as a result much of the play was in the neutral zone.
With 6:30 to go the Coyotes were given a good chance to close the gap as Horcoff was called for slashing. The Oiler penalty killers were having none of that though as they easily killed the penalty to keep the 3 goal lead intact.
1:30 to go and the Oilers had another good chance with Moreau centering to Gagner but he was in too close and was only able to tap the puck into Tellqvist.
With 30 seconds to go it was Stortini and Boynton doing some jawing at each other and Stortini grabbed Boynton as Boynton gave him a small head butt. Stortini threw Boynton to the ice as he didn’t want to dance and the linesmen jumped in to break it up. Stortini received 4 minutes for roughing but with 30 seconds left that didn’t make a difference as the Oiler penalty killers killed the clock and the Oilers won 5-2. Shots in the period favoured the Oilers 12-8.
Could you have asked for a better start to the home-stand? 3 games and 3 victories now have the Oilers tied for 11th in the conference only 5 points out of a playoff spot. The Oilers now get 2 days off before meeting their dreaded rival Calgary Flames on Sunday evening.