Gagner, whose last name is the French verb for "to win," scored
off a Phoenix turnover with 40.4 seconds left to tie it in
regulation, then had the only goal in a four-round shootout to lift
the Edmonton Oilers to an improbable 3-2 win over the Coyotes at
"It was a gift for me and then it was nice to help out in the
shootout," Gagner said. "It's a nice feeling tonight and it's
something that we can hopefully bring home."
The win gave a small measure of satisfaction to the Oilers, who have
underachieved all season. They had lost consecutive one-goal games
and who will finish dead last in the Western Conference this season.
"We would love to hand out some of the pain we've felt this year,"
Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said of his team's spoiler role.
Phoenix certainly felt that pain on Friday. While the shootout loss
gave the Coyotes a one-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the
final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, Dallas has two games
in hand on Phoenix and will make those up this weekend with road
games against Tampa and Florida while the Coyotes are idle until
The Coyotes had a chance to widen the gap this week on the Stars
with home games against two non-playoff teams — the Oilers and
Winnipeg Jets — but Phoenix lost both those games in shootouts.
"We got a couple points but we need to get some more here to get
in," defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson said. "We need everybody to dig
Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz put Edmonton on the board first
when his shot from the hash marks defected off Ekman-Larsson's stick
and past goalie Thomas Greiss' glove hand with 45 seconds left in
the first period. The goal marked the third straight game in which
Phoenix allowed the first goal.
But Ekman-Larsson got the goal back at 14:32 of the second period
when his wrist shot from the right circle beat Edmonton goalie Ben
Scrivens on the stick side with right winger Shane Doan creating
traffic in front of the net.
The goal came 13 seconds into the Coyotes' first power play and was
the first goal Phoenix had scored since the second period against
Winnipeg on April 1, a span of more than two games.
When center Martin Hanzal left the game after one shift in the third
period, forward Kyle Chipchura was asked to take his place between
Czech wings Martin Erat and Radim Vrbata.
While the Coyotes' top-paid forwards continue to struggle, Chipchura
delivered, banging in a rebound of Ekman-Larsson's initial shot late
in the third period to give Phoenix a 2-1 lead. The goal was
Chipchura's fifth of the season and third in the last seven games.
[to top of second column]
But as has often been the case this season, the Coyotes gave the
lead back when Greiss misplayed a puck behind the net and Edmonton
right winger Jordan Eberle banked a pass of Phoenix defenseman
Zbynek Michalek and onto Gagner's stick for a tap-in with 40.4
seconds left in regulation.
"It just bounced right off my skates and was a bad mishandling for a
turnover," Greiss said. "It was a costly one for us."
Just as costly was the continued scoring drought of Phoenix's six
highest-paid forwards. Hanzal has not scored since returning from an
injury on March 15 (12 straight overall), center Mike Ribeiro has
one goal in his last 21 games, Vrbata has one goal in his last 13
games, Doan has two in his last 15 games, center Antoine Vermette
has two in his last 16 games and Erat, a trade-deadline acquisition,
has one goal in 13 games as a Coyote.
"It's a struggle because we're not getting many chances from those
guys either," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "We're not getting
many power plays right now where they were getting their points.
That's an area that we have to continue to address and we have to
try to squeeze more out of those guys."
NOTES: The Coyotes expect to set a timeline for injured G Mike
Smith's return on Sunday or Monday. Smith has missed the last six
games with a right knee injury. ... Coyotes RW David Moss returned
to the lineup after missing the past three games with a left ankle
injury. ... Edmonton LW Taylor Hall's first-period assist gave him
13 points (three goals) in 12 career games against Phoenix. Hall
entered the game with eight points in his last five games overall.
... Edmonton RW Nail Yakupov (ankle) missed his second straight
game. Coach Dallas Eakins said Friday that he doubts Yakupov will
play again this season. ... D Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored a
power-play goal late in the second period to break a Coyotes span of
139:13 without a goal. Before that, they had scored only one goal in
216:16. ... Edmonton entered play with the Western Conference's
worst home record (14-20-3), road record (12-22-6) and overall
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