Oilers get inevitable crash vs. Coyotes after highs of Battle of Alberta

Antti Raanta was perfect in net, stopping all 30 shots faced, to get the Coyotes a 3-0 win over the visiting Oilers.

You could see this game coming a mile away after the red-hot Edmonton Oilers emerged from an emotional Battle of Alberta to spend a couple of days in the Arizona sun. The Oilers left their game in Alberta and a hungry Coyotes team administered a lesson in defensive hockey.

A Coyotes goal, an Oilers own goal and an empty-netter propelled Arizona to a 3-0 win against the luckless Oilers, a night that Edmonton was probably due for after a long run of success.

“It felt like they had seven guys out there. They played solid,” Connor McDavid told reporters in Glendale. “We didn’t have it tonight, so we chalk this one up as a wash.”

The Big Takeaway

What can you say? After playing Calgary, St. Louis and Calgary — and reaping five of six points — the Oilers were due for an emotional letdown.

“Overall, I’ve liked our last five games against some tough opponents,” McDavid said. “It’s a tight division and you’re going to have nights like these, but they were good and we didn’t have it.”

One team had lost five in a row, while the other went into the game with one regulation loss in 11 games. The Coyotes were clearly desperate, and couldn’t afford to let Edmonton move two points further ahead in the tight Pacific standings.

“We needed a win, whether it was Anaheim, Tampa Bay, or whoever we’re playing,” Taylor Hall said. “We needed a win and that’s basically it.”

“We did not have much juice today,” Oilers head coach Dave Tippett told reporters post-game. “I was worried about that yesterday, today, this morning and before the game. We just finished three real emotional, hard games. You could tell we didn’t have much in the tank.”

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Tippett could see after 40 minutes that his team needed a jolt. So he shuffled his deck, reuniting McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, for the first time in what seems like ages, on a line with Kailer Yamamoto. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins dropped down to centre Sam Gagner and Alex Chiasson. And Josh Archibald teamed up with Gaetan Haas and Zack Kassian.

The rearranged lines managed to outshoot Arizona 12-9 in the third period, but alas the Coyotes scored the only goal of the frame into an empty net on a loser of a night for the Oilers.

Quick Hits

• The best powerplay in the NHL went 0-for-3, giving up a fluky short-handed goal that summed up the night, while Mikko Koskinen played quite well and simply got no run support. The Oilers penalty kill was a perfect 3-0

• If you were picking a night to lose, this wasn’t a bad one for Edmonton, which sits second in the Pacific, three points back of Vancouver. The Canucks lost 4-0 at Boston, Vegas dropped a 4-2 decision in Tampa and San Jose beat Calgary 3-1. All those results are great for the Coyotes too, who hopped past the Flames into the top wild-card spot out West.

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• The Coyotes are 32-8-8 in their last 48 games against the Oilers. That’s a sign of a staunch defensive team that has been able to shut down the Oilers over the years. This Coyotes team is going to have to find some offence, however, if it’s going to get anywhere. The Coyotes rank 22nd in the NHL in goals per game, which actually marks progress for a team that has been notoriously low-scoring since moving to the desert from Winnipeg.

• Arizona head coach Rick Tocchet credited a players’ meeting for the desperation his team showed.

“I know the players I guess had a players’ meeting today. I think it was an accountability meeting,” he said post-game. “Whether you play 10 minutes or you play 18 minutes, you give your best and I think we got that tonight. I thought the attitude on the bench was really good tonight. It’s not just once in a while, we need it every night if we are going to go anywhere.”

Up Next

Edmonton comes home for three games: Wednesday vs. San Jose, Saturday vs. Nashville and Tuesday vs. Chicago.

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