SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers handle Coyotes

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:43 AM ET

Having sunk uncomfortably deep in the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers are running out of teams they can take lightly.

That was certainly the case last night when the Phoenix Coyotes rolled into Rexall Place and the Oilers found themselves looking up the standings, not down, at what used to be a perennial doormat.

Having lost four of their previous five games (three of them at home) the Oilers desperately needed a win heading into the Christmas break, and knew it would take everything they had to upset Wayne Gretzky's Desert Dogs.

It did. It was back and forth battle all night long as Edmonton won the first period 2-0, lost the second period 2-0 and won the third period 2-0. It added up to a much-needed 4-2 decision.

The win snapped Edmonton's three-game losing streak and handed the Coyotes their first regulation loss in seven starts.

As was the case in Saturday's third period comeback attempt against San Jose, the next generation of Oilers did most of the damage in this one.

Zack Stortini, who moments earlier laid out Todd Fedoruk with an open-ice hit, was rewarded for some strong battling in front of the net with this first goal of the season.

Less than two minutes later, Marc Pouliot and Andrew Cogliano combined on Pouliot's fifth goal of the season (and fourth in the last nine game since being given a promotion from the fourth line).

Only Dustin Penner has as many goals as Pouliot in the last nine games.

It was exactly the start the Oilers wanted and needed.

Unfortunately the 16,839 fans in what has become an uncomfortably cold building, the Oilers spent the second period blowing the 2-0 lead they worked so hard for in the first period.

Instead of sleepwalking out of the starting blocks and playing urgent, desperate hockey after they fell behind 2-0, the Oilers played urgent, desperate hockey out of the starting blocks, went ahead 2-0 - and THEN started sleepwalking.

It was all Phoenix all the time as Edmonton appeared to be trying to win the game 2-0.

The Coyotes out shot the Oilers 11-1 through the first 11 minutes of the second period and it only seemed a matter of time before they got one.

Jason Strudwick did all he could, working over Daniel Carcillo in a marathon fight that brought the house down.

It wasn't enough to wake the Oilers, though.

The shots were 14-2 when Martin Hanzal scored on a delayed penalty against the Horcoff-Hemsky-Penner line. And they were 17-4 when Enver Lisin tied it on a power play (Ethan Moreau for slashing) after Ed Jovanovski undressed Steve Staios at 17:37.

After leading the shot clock 9-6 at the first intermission, the Oilers were trailing 23-14 after 40.

Phoenix penalty trouble spelled their doom in the final frame as Edmonton scored on a pair of two-man advantages. Sheldon Souray's point shot, his ninth goal of the season, put the hosts up 3-2 in the first minute, the Cogliano, again on the five-on-three power play, sealed it late in the third.


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