By Dave Vest GLENDALE -- The Coyotes needed to beat the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night to set a positive tone for the final week of the regular season. A loss to the NHL’s worst team would have sparked doubt and weakened confidence at a key point in the season.
With those thoughts in mind, Phoenix eked out a 3-2 shootout victory over pesky Edmonton at Jobing.com Arena in front of a third consecutive sellout crowd.
Matthew Lombardi scored a goal in regulation and the lone goal in the shootout to lead the Coyotes (48-25-6) to a win they simply had to have, especially after the way they dominated most of the game.
“It’s hard to come out of that game and say you didn’t deserve the two points because I think we had 80 or 90 shots at the net, and by our count I think we only gave up six or seven scoring chances the whole game,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said.
Phoenix officially outshot Edmonton 44-27, but they couldn’t put the Oilers away despite having nine power plays. The Coyotes went 0 for 9, including a five-on-three advantage in the third period. Edmonton goalie Jeff Deslauriers finished with 42 saves.
Tippett, however, was not troubled by the power-play unit’s inability to score.
“I thought at times it looked really good,” Tippett said. “We had traffic, we had shots going at the net. That's what we were looking for. I thought we did all of that. We just didn't get rewarded for it.”
Lombardi put Phoenix ahead 1-0 by parlaying a slick, no-look pass from linemate Wojtek Wolski into his 17th goal of the season at 3:42 of the first period.
Tied 1-1, Coyotes forward Daniel Winnik scored his first goal since Jan. 14 at 4:01 of the second period. Winnik skated the puck through the neutral zone and then wristed a shot past Deslauriers from the left circle that dislodged Deslaurier’s water bottle from the top of the net.
Just when it seemed the Oilers (24-46-8), who have won only eight road games all season, were content to lose in regulation again, Dustin Penner beat Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with a shot from a sharp angle to tie the score at 2 with 5:24 left in the third period.
Neither team scored in the overtime or the first seven rounds of the shootout. Lombardi ended the drought in the top of the eighth round (see KEY MOMENT below).
After Lombardi’s goal, Edmonton’s Ryan Jones, who scored Edmonton’s first goal but who had never taken a shootout shot in his 90-game NHL career, was asked to score again with the game on the line. Bryzgalov blocked his shot with his left pad.
“It's hard not to like how our guys played,” Oilers Head Coach Pat Quinn said. “Most of our guys played with effort.”
Sixteen players tried to score a goal in the shootout and only Coyotes forward Matthew Lombardi succeeded. Lombardi, who entered the shootout 1 for 9 for his career, took some advice from teammate Radim Vrbata and lifted a backhanded shot over Oilers goalie Jeff Deslauriers and into the net after faking a forehanded shot.
• Saturday's victory was Phoenix's 28th win on home ice this season. No other team in Coyotes/Jets history has won that many home games in one season.
• With the win, Phoenix moved to within four points of Western Conference/Pacific Division-leading San Jose. The Coyotes and Sharks will play at HP Pavilion on April 10.
• The Coyotes are 13-5 in shootouts this season. No other NHL team has won that many shootouts this season.
• Phoenix is 28-6-6 in one-goal games this season.
"It's tough when you're not scoring for a while. Usually those chances you pucker up a little bit. It's something you've got to work through."
"I don't like shootouts. It's unfair to goalies... So many skilled players play in the shootout, and they can just abuse you and make you look stupid in the net, but I'm glad it didn't happen tonight."
"We battled hard on the PK. We won the war on the PK... They had a lot of opportunities and we just battled back and we were able to grind out (a point) at the end."