GLENDALE, Arizona (AP) — The Phoenix Coyotes enjoy playing the
role of the spoiler.
The Coyotes knocked off Vancouver last weekend and then beat the
playoff-hopeful Edmonton Oilers, 3-2, on Thursday night.
The also-ran Coyotes are playing with a purpose and providing a
challenge for clubs fighting for spots in the postseason.
“How this team is responding is real positive,” Coyotes coach
Wayne Gretzky said. “I thought against Vancouver was a good
effort, and again tonight was an equally good effort. I’m really
happy with the way our young guys are progressing.”
Martin Hanzal scored the winning goal, and kept the Oilers from
gaining critical points in their chase for a Western Conference
playoff spot. Edmonton lost its third straight while Phoenix won
for the third time in five games.
“We lost our composure in our zone (in the second period), and
that cost us the game,” Oilers defenseman Sheldon Souray said.
“Right now, we’re getting down to the nitty-gritty in the
schedule and can only look ahead.”
Matthew Lombardi had a goal and an assist, and Ken Klee also
scored for Phoenix. Hanzal’s second-period tally stood up as the
Ales Kotalik and Ales Hemsky netted Edmonton’s goals. Kotalik
scored his 16th of the season at 10:01 and Hemsky got the Oilers
within 3-2 just 43 seconds later when he put a shot between the
legs of defenseman Kurt Sauer and by Ilya Bryzgalov.
The Oilers have eight games remaining.
“We’re running out of defeats,” coach Craig MacTavish said. “I
thought we played well, but had a breakdown in the second
period. They get nine shots, score three goals, and that did us.
We had an inability to survive that period.”
The Coyotes took a 1-0 lead when Lombardi beat goalie Dwayne
Roloson, who dropped to his knees, with a wrist shot to the far
side just 3:42 into the game.
Phoenix increased its lead with two goals just over three
minutes apart in the second period.
Klee, a 37-year-old defenseman, scored his first of the season
when he converted a centering pass from Nigel Dawes at 11:38.
Hanzal made it 3-0 when he took a pass from Petr Prucha and
scored his 11th of the campaign at 14:56.
“It’s always nice when I score, and especially when it’s the
game winner,” Hanzal said. “Every win is a huge win, and this
was especially good because it was at home and we want to win
for the fans.”