GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Phoenix Coyotes enjoy playing the role of the spoiler.
The Coyotes knocked off Vancouver last weekend and then soured Edmonton;s playoff hopes with a 3-2 win over the Oilers on Thursday night. The also-ran Coyotes are playing with a purpose and providing a challenge for clubs fighting for spots in the post-season.
“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 the way our young guys are progressing.”
Martin Hanzal scored the winning goal, and kept the Oilers from gaining critical points in their chase of 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 defenceman 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 goal stood up as the game-winner.
Ales Kotalik and Ales Hemsky scored 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 defenceman 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 defenceman, scored his first of the season when he converted a centring 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 season 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.”
Notes: Roloson started his 30th straight game, extending his team record Lombardi’s goal was his third in his last four games with Phoenix. It was Lombardi’s second two-point game since the Coyotes acquired him from Calgary. Hemsky’s goal was his second in 12 games.