GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes played their best hockey of the season for two-thirds of the game, then held on to derail the steamrolling Edmonton Oilers.
Daymond Langkow, Adrian Aucoin and Boyd Gordon scored Saturday night in a 4-2 victory that snapped the Oilers’ six-game winning streak.
Ray Whitney added an empty-net goal with 11 seconds left. Mike Smith had 24 saves and his fourth career assist for the Coyotes in their fourth victory in five games.
“I thought our first 40 minutes was very good,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “They’re a team that came in playing well, on a roll. I thought we played the game fast. That was a very entertaining hockey game the first couple of periods.”
Rookie sensation Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his sixth goal for Edmonton. Theo Peckham added his first of the season for the Oilers, who had 26 saves from Devan Dubnyk.
“They definitely outskated us the first two periods,” Peckham said. “We were trying to do too many cute little plays instead of trying to get the puck and getting it deep.”
The victory was the 100th for Dave Tippett in 177 games as Phoenix coach, an accomplishment achieved even though the team has been under NHL ownership since he’s had the job. Not much for landmark stats, the plainspoken Tippett said he only heard about the 100th win a short time earlier.
“I like to win,” he said, “so I have no problem with that.”
The Coyotes, behind second-period goals by Langkow and Aucoin, were up 2-0 after two periods but the Oilers twice cut their deficit to one.
“We did a good job all game of limiting their chances,” Smith said. “It seemed like there in the third we got a little nervous to lose the game and kind of tensed up, but we hung on. We did what we had to do to win the game.”
The Coyotes were able to slow down the extremely fast Oilers from the start.
“I think that was probably the best couple of periods we’ve played all year,” Smith said. “Our ‘D’ was fantastic. From the drop of the puck they were in those guys’ faces. They didn’t give them much space. They did a tremendous job in front of me. It was a whole team effort there for 2 1/2 periods.”
The 18-year-old Nugent-Hopkins knocked in a deflection in front of the net to cut it to 2-1 with 10 1/2 minutes left, but Phoenix countered with what turned out to be the deciding goal. Barely two minutes later, Gordon scored on a backhand. Quick passes from Radim Vrbata to Ray Whitney to Gordon set up the goal with 8:24 remaining.
With 7:07 to go, Peckham’s goal cut it to one again.
“We really had to muster everything to get ourselves back in the game, which we did,” Edmonton coach Tom Renney said, “but at the end of the day they were a little more precise than we were and we flirted with the puck too much. That cost us the game.”
The Coyotes scored first when Langkow skated to the right of the Edmonton net, then let loose with a wrist shot that found the net just inside of the left post 4:44 into the second period. Keith Yandle and Smith got assists on the quick-striking play.
Midway through the second period, the Coyotes were called for too many men on the ice, but killed the penalty to maintain the 1-0 lead.
Phoenix had a 15-11 advantage in shots and one power play in the first period but failed to score against an Oilers team coming off a 3-0 victory at Los Angeles on Thursday night.
The Oilers (8-3-2) hadn’t lost since a 3-2 defeat at home against Minnesota on Oct. 20. They had outscored the competition 17-6 during the winning streak.
NOTES: Edmonton D Andy Sutton served the third game of a five-game suspension for his elbow to the head of Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog. Sutton is eligible to return when the Oilers play at Detroit next Friday. … Phoenix was without C Martin Hanzal for the second straight game because of an undisclosed lower body injury. … The Oilers were on the second stop of a six-game road trip. … C Cal O’Reilly made his Coyotes debut after being acquired from Nashville for a fourth-round draft pick.