Sykora had a goal and three assists and Hemsky and Thoresen chipped in three-point performances as the Oilers downed the slumping Phoenix Coyotes 5-2. Shawn Horcoff and Jarrett Stoll each added their first goal of the season for the Oilers (6-2-0).
Sykora said the line, which was retooled to give Norwegian rookie Thoresen a more prominent role after a strong start to the year, is really starting to connect.
“Everybody is skating and making plays and looking for each other out there and that is why we have had success. It’s why the puck is going in for us,” said Sykora, who leads the team with 13 points. “Right now we are getting our chances and we are scoring on them. Patrick (Thoresen) is making some great plays out there right now.”
Oiler head coach Craig MacTavish also heaped praise on Thoresen, who doubled his season point total and has looked good since replacing Raffi Torres on the line.
“I was super impressed with him in camp and he just continues to get more impressive,” said MacTavish. “I don’t know that we have a player that thinks the game positionally as well he does right now. He checks and all those things. He thinks the game well offensively and has really meshed in with (Hemsky) who was spectacular tonight, as was (Sykora).”
Thoresen, just the fifth player from Norway to ever play in the NHL, is just glad to be getting a shot. “It’s such a bonus for me to create points right now,” he said. “Every time I am out there I’m just trying to work hard and to do my job on the line. I’m just trying to work hard to make room for Hemsky and Sykora because they are two of the most skilled guys in the league.”
Jeremy Roenick and Mike Comrie scored for the Coyotes (2-7-0), who have lost six of their last seven and are off to their worst start since moving to Phoenix from Winnipeg for the 1996-97 season.
“We need to . . . win, however we do it,” said Roenick. “We’re not going to do it sitting in the penalty box all night. We’re the most undisciplined team in the league and it has to stop. It’s embarrassing.
“We’re killing our goaltenders with barrages of shots because we are killing penalties all . . . night. We keep doing the same thing.”
The Oilers jumped out to a 2-0 start just 12 minutes into the first period, scoring two goals in 59 seconds.
Torres beat Phoenix starter Curtis Joseph with an easy tap-in after a perfect cross-ice pass from Thoresen. A minute later, and with the Oilers on the power play, Stoll ripped a slap shot from the point past Joseph for his first goal of the season.
Early in the second period Horcoff blasted a slap shot off the post and in to give Edmonton a three-goal edge.
Phoenix finally put one past Oilers goaltender Dwayne Roloson four minutes later as Ladislav Nagy hit Roenick with a pass as he charged the net. Roenick’s first of the year broke a Coyotes’ string of 147 minutes and 50 seconds without a goal.
The Coyotes pulled back to within one on a second-period power play when Comrie batted a puck through Roloson’s legs during a scramble in front of the Oiler net.
The Oilers had a flurry of solid chances in the final minute of the period but Joseph was able to keep the game 3-2 after two.
Edmonton regained its two-goal advantage in the third when Sykora blasted his sixth goal past Joseph to put Edmonton up 4-2.
Sykora would get his fourth point of the night on another Oiler power play, although it was Hemsky that did all the work, calmly circling around at the point before wristing a shot over the shoulder of Joseph to give Edmonton the 5-2 win.
The Coyotes take on the Flames in Calgary Tuesday night, while Edmonton starts a mini two-game road trip by travelling to Anaheim to face ex-Oiler Chris Pronger and the Ducks on Wednesday.
Notes: Former Oiler Georges Laraque returned to the Coyotes lineup after missing one game as a healthy scratch. In his seven previous starts this season he was minus-5 with zero points.