It’s been more than 30 years since one team has had the number of their opposition to the degree that the Arizona Coyotes do over the Edmonton Oilers.
Jamie McGinn scored the winner late in the third period as the Coyotes continued their dominance of the Oilers with a 2-1 victory on Sunday.
Arizona is 21-0-4 against Edmonton in the last 25 meetings between the two teams, the longest stretch since the Philadelphia Flyers went 32 games in a row without giving up a regulation loss to the Los Angeles Kings.
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith said he is hard pressed to explain the lengthy streak, as well as his own 15-1-1 record lifetime against the Oilers.
“I can’t, I just can’t,” he said. “It’s a team that we have had some success against, but I feel it is a little bit different of a team now than the one we have had so much success against in the past. It was definitely a challenging win for us.”
Radim Vrbata also scored for the Coyotes (8-10-2), who have won three of their past four games.
Arizona head coach Dave Tippett said he feels his team is finally starting to find its form after a tough road trip to start the season put them in a hole.
“We are 6-4-2 in our last 12 games,” he said. “We have a lot of young players and new players and we knew it was going to take some time to get our group together and we are moving in the right direction.”
Milan Lucic replied for the Oilers (12-9-2), who also lost to the Coyotes on Friday in a shootout.
“We forced them to defend all game long,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid. “If that (first) goal doesn’t go in, it’s a little bit of a different game. Ultimately we did a good job battling back and giving up that late goal is frustrating, but I don’t think a lot of guys are too worried about it. Obviously those are big points against divisional teams that we cost ourselves, but it’s a long year and we get to see them three more times.”
Smith made 41 saves for the win in net as Cam Talbot turned aside 21-of-23 shots in defeat.
Edmonton controlled the bulk of the play in the early running, but it was Arizona which struck first with four minutes left in the first period. Vrbata took a no-look shot from the corner that bounced off Oilers defender Kris Russell and past Talbot into the Edmonton net.
The Oilers outshot the Coyotes 13-6 in the first.
A short-handed break by Edmonton’s Mark Letestu late in the second followed by defender Adam Larrson blocking a shot that was headed for the back of the Oilers net were the highlights of a scoreless period.
Edmonton finally got on the board with 9:21 remaining in the third period after a long point shot by McDavid was tipped by Lucic in front of the net for his seventh of the season.
The Coyotes retook the lead with 3:44 remaining as McGinn was left all alone in front and beat Talbot stick-side to make it 2-1.
Edmonton buzzed around the Arizona net with Talbot pulled for the extra attacker, but couldn’t get a second goal past Smith.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday, as the Oilers play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Coyotes travel to San Jose.
Notes: It was the second of five meetings between the Oilers and Coyotes this season. The last time the Oilers defeated the Coyotes in regulation time was on Jan. 25, 2011 The Coyotes came into the game with the league’s worst penalty killing numbers on the road, sitting at just at 66.7 per cent, but were perfect in three Edmonton attempts on the night.Report Typo/Error