By Dave Vest
EDMONTON -- While many fans inside Rexall Place were noticeably preoccupied with the Canada vs. U.S. gold-medal game at the IIHF World Junior Championship going on at the same time, the Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers played a highly entertaining NHL game on Tuesday night.
The Coyotes won, 5-4, thanks to a power-play goal scored by captain Shane Doan at 1:37 of overtime.
Doan ripped a shot past Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers from the high slot as Phoenix survived two comebacks by Edmonton. The Coyotes led 2-0 and 4-2 but needed the extra 97 seconds to snap a two-game winless streak.
"I'm glad our guys stuck with it," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We got to overtime and found a way to get the extra point, and that's what counts."
Fans inside the rink were not happy when they saw Canada lose to the U.S. on the Jumbotron during the third period nor were they happy when Oilers forward Fernando Pisani was called for tripping in Edmonton's offensive zone 49 seconds into overtime.
Doan made the Oilers pay for Pasani's gaffe with his second goal of the game. He now has 34 two-goal games in his NHL career.
"We made it a lot harder than we needed to," Doan said. "That's a big win for us on the road. We wanted to find a way to win."
Radim Vrbata gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead at 12:32 of the first period after Martin Hanzal won a faceoff in the Edmonton zone. Vrbata, stationed on the left wing, quickly took control of the loose puck and skated at Deslauriers undefended. He easily beat Deslauriers with a wrist shot between his legs.
Things got really interesting in the second period when Phoenix and Edmonton combined for five goals.
Doan, who was inexplicably overlooked as one of the game’s three stars by the media panel, started the lamp lighting with a pretty backhanded goal at 7:38. Doan’s back was to Deslauriers when he shot the puck past him. The unorthodox goal prompted Doan to flash his teammates on the bench a sly smirk as he bumped fists with them in celebration.
The Oilers, who have lost 10 of their past 11 games, got back into the game with a power-play goal at 11:37 by Gilbert Brule, and then a dazzling, even-strength goal by Patrick O’Sullivan on a breakaway at 13:45.
But the Coyotes, who entered the game without a victory at Rexall Place in nearly three years, scored twice before the intermission to regain momentum.
Hanzal made the score 3-2 at 14:47 by controlling a loose puck off the endboards in front of the Edmonton goal and then easily beating Deslauriers, who had no chance thanks to no defenders challenging Hanzal.
Later in the period, Vrbata stole the puck from Oilers center Robert Nilsson in Edmonton’s zone and fed a perfect cross-slot pass to Petr Prucha, who one-timed the puck past Deslauriers at 17:54.
Edmonton scored twice within 49 seconds of the third period to force overtime.
“It's one of those nights that we probably should have had a better result," Oilers Head Coach Pat Quinn said. "We had four bizarre goals against us. That one in overtime was a tough one. The back referee calls (the tripping penalty) from 100 feet away in a battle for the puck."
Leading 4-2, the Coyotes went on a power play at 4:54 of the second period when Oilers enforcer Zack Stortini was called for boarding Phoenix center Vernon Fiddler. With 51 seconds left in the man advantage, the Coyotes appeared to score their fifth goal when a slap shot from the right point by defenseman Adrian Aucoin nicked off one of Ed Jovanovski's skates and past Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers. Referee Ian Walsh, however, ruled that the goal didn't count because Jovanovski was in the crease. The play was reviewed and Walsh's call stood.
"They told me that Jovo was in the crease, but from what I saw, that wasn't the case, so I'll leave it at that," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "It is frustrating, but our guys hung in there. We made our point with the referees, thought it was not a very good call, made our point and let it be, then got back to playing hockey."
• Center Vernon Fiddler and defenseman Jim Vandermeer returned to Phoenix’s lineup. Fiddler, who had missed six of the past seven games because of a lower-body injury, played 11:46. He had two shots on goal and three hits. Vandermeer, who missed the past four games because of an upper-body injury, played 21:00, blocked three shots and had two shots on goal.
• Center Martin Hanzal suffered an upper-body injury late in the third period. Details of his injury were not immediately provided.
• The Coyotes snapped a five-game losing streak at Rexall Place. Phoenix's last victory in Edmonton before Tuesday's game was on Feb. 27, 2007.
• Forward Paul Bissonnette had two assists in 10:25 of ice time. It was the first multi-point game of his 41-game NHL career.
• Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was called for slashing in the second period. It was his first penalty of the season.
• Center Robert Lang won 7 of 10 faceoffs.
• The Coyotes scratched Scottie Upshall (upper-body injury), Sami Lepisto and Kevin Porter. Edmonton scratched Jean-Francois Jacques and Lubomir Visnovsky.
"One of their (defensemen) lost his stick up high and that made it a 4-on-2 and really let me creep in. I was just trying to hit the net and it found a hole."
"It was just one of those things. It was a judgment on the ref and it didn't go our way. I need to look at the rulebook to get a clear explanation on what's going on in the crease."
"We showed a lot more life than we have this past month and we had a little bit more conviction in our game... We'll take the positives out of it."