Accidental tourists

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Coyotes had every reason to be dog-tired as they pulled on their equipment for their fifth game in seven nights at Glendale Arena last night.

The Edmonton Oilers, who'd spent a couple of days playing golf, basking in the Arizona sun and generally taking it easy after a 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings, did not.

It turned out the Oilers weren't done slacking off when the puck dropped on a night the Coyotes handed out Wayne Gretzky bobble-head dolls to the first 10,000 fans through the door.

The Oilers, looking to sweep a three-game road trip and put the Coyotes eight points behind them, overcame a lazy start and got it done in a 4-3 shootout win, avoiding having to file out of the rink with all those grinning likenesses of the Great One nodding in mocking disdain.

A STUNNING FINISH

But it took a stunning finish to do it.

"It's a one-in-a-million play," said coach Craig MacTavish after Chris Pronger scored with one second remaining in regulation time. "I've never seen it in 25-odd years of hockey. I've never seen anything like it."

On a night the Coyotes came within a second of beating the Oilers for the third straight time, Radek Dvorak saved them the embarrassment with the shootout winner after Pronger got the visitors to overtime with a goal with one tick left in regulation time.

"Tonight's game was a little average, but we made enough plays out there to get the job done," Pronger said. "We kind of got lucky with the goal with one second left. If you do that 100 times, I don't know if youire going to get one."

Pronger sifted a tip from Fernando Pisani on a draw from Marty Reasoner through a crowd and past Curtis Joseph, leaving the rest to Dvorak and Mike Morrison, who improved to a 4-0 in shootouts.

"I like them," said Morrison, who allowed only a goal by Shane Doan in the shootout, while Ales Hemsky and Dvorak beat Joseph.

"I practise so much with these guys. I know exactly how I want to go about it. When you've got guys like Dvorak and Hemsky shooting on you every day, it's something I love to do."

Both teams looked like they'd rather be on the golf course or by the pool in a listless, yawn-inducing opening period. The Coyotes had an excuse. The Oilers didn't. Worse yet, the Coyotes scored on one of just two shots they had in the period as Zbynek Michalek blew a slapper through traffic and past Morrison 14:51 in.

When Raffi Torres and Ryan Smyth put pucks behind Joseph in the second for a 2-1 lead, it looked like the Oil may have something going.

Not so. Morrison kicked the rebound of a Fredrik Sjostrom slapper right back into the slot, where Dave Scatchard pumped the rubber past him at 16:22 to tie it 2-2. Then, Boyd Devereaux snuck in behind the Oilers defence and shovelled a Mike Ricci pass behind Morrison and the Coyotes had a 3-2 lead on just 12 shots.

HEADS AND LEGS

The Oilers got their heads and their legs into it in the third period with the Coyotes fading.

They shot the works at Joseph, but couldn't beat him until Pronger's prayer found twine.

Then came Dvorak, the sixth Oilers shooter, who tucked a backhand past Joseph before Morrison stopped Mike Johnson to close the deal.

"I think we were a little lethargic," said MacTavish.

"At the end of the day we were ahead 30-15 (in shots) with eight power plays (against), so it's not a team playing poorly."

AROUND THE RINK: Ricci, who lost the draw to Reasoner on the tying goal, went 14-4 on the dot ... Captain Jason Smith left the game before the third period after suffering a bruised toe on a blocked shot ... Michael Peca was scratched with the flu, so the Oilers went with 11 forwards and seven D-men, dressing both Dick Tarnstrom, Jaroslav Spacek and rookie Matt Green.


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