GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Arizona Coyotes entered 2014-15 hoping that Mikkel Boedker's career-high 19 goals last season were a sign of even better things to come.
So far, the 24-year-old left wing they call "The Great Dane" is delivering.
Boedker continued his hot start with his first career hat trick and Connor Murphy and Rob Klinkhammer snapped a second-period tie with goals 1:07 apart to lead the Coyotes to a 7-4 victory against the winless Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.
The native of Brondby, Denmark, scored on a breakaway in the first period, a backhander midway through the third and capped his hat trick with a steal and stuff into an empty net with 26.7 seconds left. He has five goals in the first three games of 2014-15, one behind NHL leader Rick Nash of the New York Rangers.
With two of last season's top four scoring forwards, Radim Vrbata and Mike Ribeiro, departing from a team that has never been endowed with an embarrassment of offensive riches, more goals from Boedker are a must if the Coyotes are to end a two-year playoff drought.
"You have to find the right spots on the ice and you have to put them in," said Boedker, the first member of the Coyotes to score five times in the first three games of a season since the franchise moved to Arizona for the 1996-97 season. "I'm getting good opportunities and my linemates are finding me. When you are hot, things tend to go in and that's how it's going right now."
Kyle Chipchura and Martin Erat also scored for the Coyotes, who are 16-2-3 against the Oilers since coach Dave Tippett arrived for the 2009-10 season; they are unbeaten in regulation (10-0-3) against Edmonton since the 2011-12 season and have scored 28 goals and their past six games against the Oilers.
Arizona goalie Mike Smith, who allowed six goals by the Winnipeg Jets in the season-opener on Oct. 9, wasn't particularly sharp but made 23 saves in his return to the net after sitting out a 3-2 overtime win against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday. Smith also earned his 10th career point when he assisted on Boedker's first goal.
"It was a sloppy game by us," Tippett said. "It seemed like pucks were bouncing all over the place and a lot of major mistakes. We got away with it, but I would like to see us be more sound."
Taylor Hall scored his second and third goals of the season for Edmonton and added a nifty assist on Mark Arcobello's third-period goal. Mark Fayne also scored for the Oilers, who have been outscored 23-9 during their 0-3-1 start.
"It's tough to swallow," Hall said. "We'd love to give up less goals and score more, but it's just not happening for us right now."
Goalie Ben Scrivens made 23 saves, but his defense allowed far too many choice scoring chances and the Coyotes took advantage of enough of them to improve to 2-1-0.
"Our effort throughout the game I liked. The guys are trying," Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said. "It's the big mistake or the bad luck that is just killing us right now. The luck will change but we have to eliminate the big mistakes."
The Oilers scored early when the Coyotes had trouble clearing their zone. Nikita Nikitin held in Oliver Ekman-Larsson's hard around in at the blue line, and his shot toward the net hit Ekman-Larsson in the skate. Jordan Eberle gathered in the deflection and fed Hall for a point-blank tap between Smith's pads at 1:25 and the Coyotes were behind for the third straight game.
"It looks like a great play by them, but its two deflections off two people and one of those things you just have to move on from," Tippett said. "I'm glad we did."
The Coyotes got even on the power play after Nikitin was sent off for hooking Arizona's Antoine Vermette. Keith Yandle whipped a 100-foot pass that found Boedker waiting at the Edmonton blue line. Boedker went in alone and dumped a backhander over Scrivens' glove at 8:22 to give him a goal in each of Arizona's first three games.
"When he gets opportunities he's capitalizing on them and that was a big plus for us tonight," Tippett said of Boedker.
The Coyotes made it 2-1 at 13:53 when Chipchura, a healthy scratch in the first two games, finished off a good hustle play by the fourth line. Brandon McMillan raced to beat Scrivens to a puck behind the net and chipped a pass to Joe Vitale, who found Chipchura alone in the slot for a shot that beat Scrivens.
"Chipchura sits out the first the couple of games and he wanted to come in and have an impact," Tippett said. "That line had a lot of impact and had some valuable shifts in the game.
Edmonton tied the game at 17:50 when Leon Draisaitl's pass/shot banked off the end boards and came right to Fayne, whose one-timer beat Smith to the near post.
But the Coyotes did all the second-period scoring. After a strong Arizona penalty kill, Shane Doan dropped a pass that Murphy snapped over Scrivens' glove from the top of the left circle at 5:08. It was Murphy's second career goal and his first in 31 games, dating back to Nov. 16, 2013, against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Klinkhammer made it 4-2 at 6:15 when he got to the slot and pushed Erat's pass behind Scrivens.
Edmonton made it a one-goal game during a 4-on-4 early in the third period when Hall feathered a beautiful saucer pass over the prone body of Ekman-Larsson and Arcobello banged it past Smith for his second goal of the season.
But Boedker restored the lead to 5-3 when his innocent-looking backhander from the slot eluded the glove of Scrivens, dropped between his pads and slid over the goal line. Erat made it 6-3 at 12:59, beating Scrivens with a backhander, before Hall scored his second of the night at 14:30.