The Phoenix Coyotes came into Thursdays matchup with the Edmonton Oilers on their first three-game losing streak in 129 games. Losing streaks are something that Coyotes fans have not been accustomed to during Dave Tippett's time behind the bench and the team needed a good bounce back win after a tough 4-1 loss against the Anaheim Ducks less than 24-hours earlier.
Former Coyote goalie Nikolai Khabibulin was in the building Thursday but it would be backup Devan Dubnyk who would get the start in net for the Oilers. The Coyotes came out firing at Dubnyk, outshooting the Oilers 6-14 in the first period and 42-20 in the game. The 42 shots are a season high.
Mike Smith was in net for the Coyotes and was looking to turn around his December. Smith already has more losses in December than in October and November combined. Smith would only need to stop 18 shots in the win.
It was a 60-minute effort for the Coyotes Thursday, which has been rare lately. In the first period Lauri Korpikoski would put the Coyotes on the board picking up a Cal O'Reily drop pass and firing the puck past Dubnyk with a man, literally, on his back. O'Reily has been a healthy scratch for the last nine games and made a lot of his little ice time Thursday.
Taylor Hall was in the lineup for the Oilers after sitting out three weeks with a shoulder injury and he proved to be a real pain for the Coyotes to contain on the penalty kill. Hall would net two power play goals against the Desert Dogs struggling special teams unit. The Coyotes have allowed eight power play goals in their last ten games.
In the second period a goal would be disallowed due to a crease violation after Ray Whitney was thrown into the Edmonton goaltender, but the Radim Vrbata and Whitney combination would not be denied of getting on the scoresheet. Vrbata would put in his 15th goal of the season just seconds later, and on the night where the Coyotes honored Whitney's 600th assist, he would add two more to his career total.
It would be the savvy veterans who would pull out the win for the Coyotes in the third period. David Langkow and Shane Doan threw the puck on net all night, registering 15 shots combined in the game. The tension was high with eight minutes left and the score tied at 2-2, but the Coyote captain came through when his team needed it most. Doan would make a beautiful deke from the goal line towards the center of the ice and managed to slide the puck past Dubnyk to put the Coyotes up 3-2. Oliver Ekman-Larsson would add another goal just minutes later to secure the 4-2 win for the Yotes. It was Doan's eighth and Ekman-Larrson's sixth of the season.
Fans have been clamoring for it and Coach Dave Tippett finally made the decision tonight to take Derek Morris out of the lineup as a healthy scratch. Morris has been downright awful and has seen his ice time slowly decrease through the year. Morris has six assist and has posted a team worst -9 in the plus-minus department. The Coyotes 2006 first-round pick Chris Summers was called up by the Coyotes Wednesday and is expected to take over for Morris on defense.
Kyle Turris was also a healthy scratch for a second straight night. The 2007 third-overall pick of the Coyotes has yet to register a point since his return from a lengthy holdout December 1st. If Turris remains a healthy scratch expect the trade rumors to start running rampant.