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Nugent-Hopkins off the mark as Oilers edge Coyotes

Edmonton Oilers' Jeff Petry, 58, Taylor Hall, 4, and Jordan Eberle, 14, celebrate Hall's second goal of the night during second period NHL pre-season hockey action in Edmonton on Tuesday, September 27, 2011.


First-overall draft picks Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall each had three point nights as the Edmonton Oilers won their third consecutive pre-season contest, defeating the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Tuesday.

Hall had two of the goals and Nugent-Hopkins the other for the Oilers, who improved to 4-2-0 in exhibition action.

Ray Whitney and Shane Doan responded for the Coyotes, who have lost three straight to sit at 2-3-0 in the pre-season.

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The game was scoreless until there was just two minutes remaining in the first period when two players expected to be cornerstones for Edmonton in the future combined on a power-play goal.

Playing on the same line for the second time, 2010 first-overall pick Hall drove hard to the net on the man advantage and took enough of Phoenix goalie Mike Smith's attention that 2011 first-overall pick Nugent-Hopkins was able to sweep in the rebound for his fourth pre-season point.

The Oilers' future line, which included another first-round pick in Jordan Eberle, struck again just over a minute into the second period as Nugent-Hopkins made a long pass just above the top of the crease to Hall, who snapped home his second exhibition goal.

The third Oiler goal was more of the same as Nugent-Hopkins made a backhand pass from the slot to a hard-charging Hall who blew a shot past Smith to the glove side.

Phoenix put their first goal on the scoreboard with two minutes left in the middle frame on a penalty-killing gaffe by the Oilers, who allowed Whitney to receive a pass completely alone in front of the net and he swung around a helpless Nikolai Khabibulin and deposited the puck into the net.

Phoenix closed to within a goal with five minutes remaining on another power play as Doan had a quick release on a feed from Patrick O'Sullivan for his second of the pre-season.

Khabibulin finished with 18 saves for the win, while Smith stopped 29 shots.

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The Coyotes are in Calgary to continue the pre-season on Thursday. The Oilers play again on Friday in Minnesota.

Notes: The Oilers dressed a line of Ales Hemsky, Ryan Smyth and Shawn Horcoff that was highly effective in their 2006 run to the Stanley Cup finals. It was the first time the trio had played together since Smyth was traded away at the deadline in 2007. ... Hemsky was playing his first game since suffering a shoulder injury seven months ago. ... The Oilers announced centre Sam Gagner had suffered a high-ankle strain and would be out week-to-week. ... Former Oiler O'Sullivan came into the game leading the Coyotes with four points in three pre-season games. O'Sullivan signed a two-way deal with Phoenix this summer. ... The Coyotes' top line was the veteran grouping of Whitney, Daymond Langkow and Doan. Langkow only played in four games in the 2010-11 season. ... The Coyotes had five of their top six defencemen dressed for the game.

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