Oilers rally in third period, but fall short once again
Coyotes’ 4-0 lead in second period was too much to overcome
EDMONTON - Despite two days of practice, assertions they want to eke out a few wins before the Olympic break, and another third-period resurgence, it was the same sorry ending for the Edmonton Oilers.
The Oilers were defeated 4-3 Friday by the Phoenix Coyotes at Rexall Place to stretch their losing streak to six games.
It is the Oilers’ second six-game losing streak of the season. They also have three five-game losing skids.
Edmonton has won two games in a row only twice this season.
“We carried the play for parts of the game, but just not enough, and those plays always end up in the back of our net,” said David Perron, who scored his 19th goal of the season — one of three unanswered goals the Oilers scored in their comeback attempt.
The Coyotes wasted no time ending their misery. They won only three of their previous 11 games and scored just three goals once in their last six outings, but needed just four minutes to build a 3-0 lead.
“I don’t think it’s a lack of preparation, it’s a lack of settling into the game, realizing that we’re in a 60-minute game, not a 10-minute game,” said Matt Hendricks, who ignited the turnaround with his first goal in only his fourth game with his new club.
“Our consistency isn’t where it needs to be. As the game goes on, we have progressively gotten better. We need to play like that at the beginning of the game. I don’t know what it is. I don’t have the answer.”
Mikkel Boedker, with too much time and space, rang the game’s first goal in off the goal post; Radim Vrbata, with a power-play marker, beat Oilers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with a one-timer; then a minute later, Derek Morris, who hadn’t scored since Oct. 31, slapped in a long-range shot to give the Coyotes a 3-0 first intermission advantage.
Hendricks redirected a pass from linemate Ryan Jones at 13:17 of the second period to get the Oilers going. He had played just five minutes and 33 seconds up to that point, and was responsible for all three of Edmonton’s penalties in the first 40 minutes.
“I took a couple of bad penalties there. I can’t be doing that,” said Hendricks, who was took an elbowing minor and a double minor for roughing.
“But we kind of fell flat on our face at the beginning of the game. It doesn’t come down to Xs and Os, it doesn’t come down to what forecheck you’re doing, how you’re playing in your defensive zone, which guys are in the lineup. It just comes down to which guys are performing better and we didn’t do that at the beginning of the game.”
The Oilers, who are saddled with a 15-32-6 record, are 1-8 in games decided by one goal.
“You get down in a game like that and it can go one way or the other,” said head coach Dallas Eakins. “Guys can dig their heels in and fight for each other and support each other or the game can go badly.
“Phoenix came out and got the fourth goal and our guys hung in, which is a great sign but disappointing when you lose a game in (four) minutes.”
Minutes into the third, Perron took the team goal-scoring lead and pulled closer to his career high of 21 goals in 57 games with the St. Louis Blues in the 2011-12 season. Six minutes later, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his 14th of the season to pull the Oilers to within a goal.
Mike Ribeiro, with a deflection, gave the Coyotes a 4-0 advantage three minutes into the second period.
“We have to find a way to basically cut out every mistake,” said Eakins. “Right now, we seem to suffer as soon as we make one.”
OIL DROPS: Nail Yakupov, who missed the previous two games with a concussion, returned to the lineup as did defenceman Anton Belov, who had been a healthy scratch. Luke Gazdic and blue-liner Nick Schultz sat to make room. Head coach Dallas Eakins expects he will be rotating players in and out of the lineup until the Olympic break. “We have extra players and we’re trying to keep everybody involved leading into this Olympic break. We don’t want too many guys sitting around,” he said ... The Coyotes have points in their last 12 games against the Oilers.
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