EDMONTON – The Phoenix Coyotes have put in their fair share of overtime this season and that trend continued Friday night.
Eric Belanger scored the shootout winner as the Coyotes stormed back from a three-goal deficit to beat the struggling Edmonton Oilers 4-3.
Phoenix tied it 3-3 with 35 seconds left in regulation on Wojtek Wolski’s third of the season with goalie Ilya Bryzgalov off for the extra attacker.
Despite the win, the Coyotes have already been on the wrong end of an overtime or shootout loss five times this season.
“We were fortunate to get one there in the end,” said Coyotes forward Ray Whitney, who recorded assists on all three Phoenix goals. “If you look at our games in the last three weeks we have been up late and had teams come at us.
“I know what (the Oilers) are going through because we have been doing that consistently ourselves.”
Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata had the other goals in regulation for the Coyotes (9-5-5), who won their fifth in a row and have at least a point in seven straight contests. Vrbata also had two assists.
“We were on our heels and made some mental mistakes,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said of his team’s start. “We were fortunate to get over those. Usually when you make those you don’t win. We’ll take the points tonight.”
Ales Hemsky, Shawn Horcoff and Dustin Penner had the goals for the Oilers (4-10-4) who have lost six straight and have just two victories in their last 16 games.
The result was, however, better than some of the blowouts the team has been experiencing of late.
“It’s an upgrade,” said Oilers head coach Tom Renney. “We have to keep ratcheting this thing up because we still lost the game but we certainly played better than we have been.
“We have to be better in our end. We lost our composure.”
Goalie Devan Dubnyk, the starter with Nikolai Khabibulin on the mend, agreed Friday’s performance was an improvement.
“I thought we took a bit step in playing for 60 minutes,” he said. “That’s all the fans here are asking, to play the way we played tonight. As long as we’re working hard and busting our butts.”
Phoenix had a chance to take control early when Edmonton’s Andrew Cogliano took a five-minute major for boarding after running Kyle Turris from behind. Turris left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return.
Edmonton took the lead as Ryan Whitney sprung Hemsky on a long breakaway pass midway through the penalty kill. Bryzgalov made the initial save but Hemsky buried the rebound for the short-handed goal.
The Oilers went up 2-0 four minutes into the second on the power play. Jordan Eberle saw his shot stopped but the rebound came to Horcoff, who batted it in for his sixth of the season.
Edmonton went up by three with eight minutes remaining in the period as Ryan Whitney made a perfect pass to Penner, who had an easy redirection just as an Oilers’ two-man advantage expired.
But Phoenix quickly cut into that lead with a pair of goals in under a minute and a half.
Korpikoski showed great hands on a partial break and he beat Dubnyk with a backhand to get the Coyotes on the board.
Just 1:23 later, Vrbata made it 3-2 on a wrist shot on a Phoenix power play.
Both teams return to the ice on Sunday. The Coyotes are in Vancouver and the Oilers travel to Anaheim.
Notes: The Coyotes were once again without captain Shane Doan who has missed the past seven games with a lower-body injury. Doan is skating with the team and may play Sunday. … Defenceman Kurt Sauer (concussion) also remains on the injured reserve for Phoenix. … With Khabibulin out with a pulled groin, the Oilers brought up Martin Gerber to back up Devan Dubnyk. … Oilers defenceman Ladislav Smid (concussion) was also out for Edmonton, while forward Gilbert Brule was a healthy scratch after being benched in the Oilers’ 5-0 loss to Chicago on Wednesday. … Three members of the Coyotes—Vernon Fiddler, Derek Morris and David Schlemko—list Edmonton as their hometown. … The Oilers and the Coyotes rank 27th and 28th in the NHL, respectively, in shots against per game. … The Oilers were outscored 30-8 in their previous five games.