Sykora, who took a game-high six shots, scored with 1:14 remaining to lift the Edmonton Oilers past Phoenix 3-2 on Thursday night. He took a backhanded pass from Shawn Horcoff in stride at the inside edge of the right faceoff circle and beat Joseph with a quick wrist shot. “I had pretty much an open shot from the slot,” Sykora said. “I wasn’t trying for any corners.
“I was trying to go five-hole anywhere on the ice and it went in. Cujo was outstanding tonight. I felt he really kept them in the game.”
Jarret Stoll and Alex Hemsky also scored for the Oilers, who snapped a two-game losing streak and won for just the second time in six games (2-4-0).
Hemsky set up the winning goal when he battled past three skaters to bring the puck into the Phoenix zone before passing to Horcoff.
“Every time he touched the puck in the third period you knew something was going to happen,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said.
Yanic Perreault and Owen Nolan scored for the Coyotes, who have lost five of six (1-4-1).
Phoenix tied the game earlier in the third period on its second 5-on-3 power play. Perrault bounced an apparent pass from the bottom of the left faceoff circle off defenceman Jason Smith’s leg and past Jussi Markkanen with 16:24 remaining.
The goal was Phoenix’s only one on eight attempts against the league’s top-rated penalty kill.
“Our power play is just killing us,” said Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky. “It’s the difference in every game.
“It is what it is. That’s the group we have. They’ve got to produce. I’m not trying to point fingers at players but the bottom line is our power play is horrendous. We had ample opportunities and generated nothing.”
Nolan made it 2-1 at 10:12 of the second period, racing behind the Edmonton defence to corral a long clearing pass around the boards by Keith Ballard. Nolan poked the puck ahead before beating Markkanen for his third short-handed goal of the season.
Stoll took advantage of a fortuitous bounce off the end boards to give the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period.
Marty Reasoner dumped the puck into the Phoenix zone and Joseph skated behind the net to play it only to watch it hit a seam in the boards and roll toward the back of the net. Stoll skated in quickly and tucked the puck into the net with 10.7 seconds left in the first.
Hemsky made it 2-0 at 7:47 of the second when he took a pass from Toby Petersen, took one stride and fired a wrist shot over Joseph’s blocker.
Markkanen made 21 saves in his first start since Dec. 6.
“I will take every minute of ice time I can get,” Markkanen said. “It’s good to play when it really means something.”
Notes: Sykora has three goals and three assists in three games against Phoenix this season . . . The victory was the Oilers’ 999th in 27 NHL seasons . . . Joseph was making his first appearance in nine days and first start since Dec. 11 . . . Stoll’s short-handed goal was Edmonton’s second this season . . . Coyotes D Ed Jovanovski missed his first game of the season with a groin injury. Jovanovski played through the injury until missing three straight days of practice this week . . . Matt Jones, who was sent to San Antonio of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, was recalled Wednesday on an emergency basis to take Jovanovski’s place . . . Phoenix C Steven Reinprecht participated in Thursday’s morning skate, his first since fracturing his right clavicle Oct. 14.