Even after surrendering a power-play goal in the closing seconds of the second period, Sheldon Souray and the Edmonton Oilers knew they’d get their chance.
Souray scored a power-play goal with 14:27 remaining in the third to lift the Oilers past the struggling Phoenix Coyotes 3-1 on Monday night. “We figured with the way they were making the calls tonight, we’d get an opportunity or two in the third,” Souray said. “And it worked out that way.”
Ales Hemsky had a goal and assist and Shawn Horcoff added an empty-netter with 23.5 seconds left for the Oilers, who beat Phoenix for the seventh straight time. Edmonton also moved past Columbus and Anaheim into seventh place in the Western Conference.
“Every game is so important right now,” Hemsky said. “We need every point we can get.”
Ed Jovanovski scored a power-play goal for the Coyotes, who lost their sixth straight at home and ninth in 10 games since the all-star break. Phoenix has fallen from fifth place in the Western Conference to tied for 13th with St. Louis during that span.
“You need to score goals,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “It’s the time of the year where we count on guys to score big goals and we’re not getting them.”
Souray took a pass from Hemsky at the point and fired a wrist shot past Mikael Tellqvist to snap a 1-1 tie.
The Coyotes went on the power play with 2:33 remaining and pulled Tellqvist in favour of a sixth attacker with 1:40 left, but were unable to get set up in the Oilers’ zone for more than a few seconds at a time.
Dwayne Roloson made 28 saves for his third straight victory, catching most shots clean and allowing only a handful of rebound attempts along the way.
“He controlled everything really well tonight and the other ones that were there we had a lot of people back,” Souray said. “When he’s making big saves and big first saves you don’t want to give up a lot of second and third chances.”
Hemsky broke a scoreless tie at 15:43 of the second period when he bounced a rebound above the right front of the crease off Tellqvist’s right skate for his team-leading 18th goal.
Eight seconds after Horcoff was sent off for running into Tellqvist and with 2.7 seconds left in the second period, Jovanovski’s slap shot from the left point bounced off Roloson’s right pad and trickled across the goal line to make it 1-1.
“It looked like (Phoenix defenceman Keith) Yandle pushed him into the net face first,” Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said. “No one’s going to drive the net face first. I thought that was questionable. I know Gretz was talking to the ref earlier about what he thought was an infraction on goaltender influence and he has enough influence in the game that he generally gets the benefit when he can.”
Both teams had shots ring off the posts during the second period. Robert Nilsson hit the right post with just over nine minutes left in the period for Edmonton and Phoenix’s Peter Mueller bounced a shot off the right post with 1:50 to go.
“We didn’t bury our chances,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “When it came down to us needing to score, we didn’t score. The urgency was there, but we just didn’t score.”
Tellqvist, making his first start since Jan. 6, stopped 26 shots and fell to 6-5-1 in 12 starts.
Notes: Phoenix defenceman Kurt Sauer and centre Martin Hanzal both returned to the Coyotes’ lineup. Sauer had missed 14 games with a broken foot, during which Phoenix went 4-10, and Hanzal missed the Coyotes’ past three games. … Before the game, the Coyotes reassigned Joel Perrault to San Antonio of the American Hockey League. Perrault had two goals, three points and four penalty minutes in seven games with Phoenix. … Hemsky has two goals and four assists in his last four games.