The Coyotes suffered a potentially crushing defeat late on Friday night, as they nearly had two points cinched in their back pocket, only to watch a lead slip away in the final minute.
After a shootout goal, their fate was sealed with a 3-2 loss at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers, the team with by far the lowest number of points in the Western Conference. While the only attitude to have is a positive one, the feeling in the locker room cannot be too chipper, as this one clearly got away from the ‘Yotes.
With the first period enthralled in a stalemate, Phoenix found a way to let in the first goal of the contest on a goal from Justin Schultz with under a minute remaining—a trend that would reappear later on in the game.
Battling back in the second, Oliver Ekman-Larsson hammered home a power play goal, his 14th of the year. Coupled with his assist later in the game, it earned Ekman-Larsson the game’s second star.
The scoring binge continued for Kyle Chipchura in the third period when he was in the right place at the right time with a putback that beat Ben Scrivens for a go-ahead goal with just over seven minutes remaining. It was his fifth goal of the season, but his third of the month. To go along with that, the crafty center won seven of his 10 face-offs and lead the team in hits with seven to finish with an all-around solid night.
Just seconds remained in the game when the Oilers pulled their goaltender and brought on an extra attacker to attempt to knot the score. At the expense of the stunned Coyotes crowd, that’s precisely what they did. Dumping the pack into the zone, Thomas Greiss made his one fatal flaw of the night by attempting to play the puck, only to find himself amongst a crowd of swarming white jerseys. The puck was eventually centered and punched home by Sam Gagner, who tied the contest back up at two.
As frustrating as the forcing of overtime was, it’s hard not to give credit to the Oilers. With absolutely nothing to play for but pride and the chance to be a playoff spoiler, they fought back on the road to play a lengthy contest.
Overtime proved indecisive, so there was of course, the dreaded shootout. After the combination of Boedker-Vrbata-Vermette-Ekman-Larsson went begging, Sam Gagner reared his head again and with something out of a video game, left Greiss in the dust to give the Oilers a well-deserved two points.
By the time the Coyotes take the ice next, they should have a better understanding of where they fit into the Western Conference playoff picture, if they do at all. They’ll head to Columbus for a 4 P.M. puck drop on Tuesday night, but in the meantime, the Stars will catch up to them in the number of games played.
Currently only in front by a single point, there really is little room for error. It may sound cliché to state that “every point matters,” but with the Dallas Stars hot on their heels for a playoff berth, the words couldn’t be truer.