Oilers lose in shootout to Coyotes

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:31 PM ET

PHOENIX -- What the Edmonton Oilers really need is to get on a roll, but that's obviously easier said than done.

Just 48 hours removed from plucking two points from the San Jose Sharks in a building they hardly ever win in, the Oilers came calling on the Phoenix Coyotes looking to put together back-to-back victories for the first time in almost a month.

Having taken points in their last six visits to Arizona, a stretch including three wins, you had to like the Oilers chances of a much-needed sweep of a two-game trip before jumping a jet for home.

The Oilers made it points in seven straight, but they didn't get the win they wanted as Ladislav Nagy scored the winner in a 4-3 shootout win for the Coyotes that puts the roll on hold again.

THE SMART THINGS

"Once you got a lead that late in the game you've got to do the smart things," said Ryan Smyth, who was stripped of the puck on Oleg Saprykin's goal with less than four minutes left in regulation time. "I'll take the blame on that one. I turned it over and it ended up in our net."

The Oilers haven't put together two wins since they beat Vancouver 7-6 Dec. 23 and Los Angeles 5-3 three nights later, but they were filling the net then. That hasn't been the case lately.

Three goals isn't bad, but it wasn't enough as Nagy lifted a puck off the post and into the net past Jussi Markkanen on Phoenix's third shot of the first shootout round to get it done.

"We needed to be better right from the start of the game," said Jason Smith. "If we played a solid 60 minutes, rather than 20 minutes in the third period, we'd have a better result."

Smyth, who had what looked like his 20th goal of the season called off for a high stick in San Jose, hit the mark for the seventh time in his NHL career to get the Oilers even 1-1 in the first period.

With the Oilers trailing after Mike Comrie tapped a goalmouth feed past Markkanen, Smyth took a breakout pass from Steve Staios and blew a high slapshot past Curtis Joseph.

The Oilers got a break when Comrie had what looked like his second goal of the night called off 5:01 into the second period when it was ruled Mike Johnson interfered with Markkanen.

Johnson made amends with 48 ticks left in the second when he tipped Fredrik Sjostrom's shot from the circle behind Markkanen for a 2-1 lead, but the Oilers pulled even again.

Georges Laraque tied it 5:44 into the third - you heard right - with his first goal in 53 games, since March 16, 2004 when Dennis Seidenberg inadvertently tapped a rebound of the tough guy's backhand past Joseph.

When Smith put the Oilers up 3-2 with a slapper 10:56 into the third, the Oilers had their first lead.

That lasted only until Saprykin sent the teams to overtime when he took Smyth's giveaway and stuffed a rebound past Markkanen in a scrum.

STOPPED PECA, HEMSKY

With nothing settled there, Joseph stopped Michael Peca and Ales Hemsky in the shootout to make goals by Geoff Sanderson and Nagy stand up.

"I don't need to impress upon them the importance of every game," said coach Craig MacTavish.

"The important thing is how we prepare and how we play.

''The rest takes care of itself. There's no sense heaping a bunch of pressure on our team. It's obvious. We know the situation. We're in eighth again. We know the situation in the divisional race."

AROUND THE RINK . . . When Paul Mara of the Coyotes was penalized for an illegal stick in the second period, it marked the third time in five games the Oilers have successfully called for a stick measurement.


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