Oilers Top Coyotes 2-1: Yakupov Strikes Again

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

If this hockey thing doesn't work out for Nail Yakupov there's a chance he could make it as a baseball player.

The Oilers arrived in Phoenix tonight for the start of a short four day road trip that will see the team play three games. Having had an every other night schedule so far this season this will be the first real test this team will have faced. And they came away with two points so, even if it wasn't the prettiest game you'll ever see, the Oilers at least passed the first test of the trip.

Petrell gave the Oilers a lead early and the Coyotes tied the game in the last minute. Most of what happened in between was either boring, or very boring. The puck seemed to be bouncing a lot and the passes were almost never tape-to-tape. Fitting then that Yakupov scored the game winner in overtime by knocking the puck out of the air for his fourth goal and second home run of the season.

Highlights

First Period

  • The only goal of the first period came off the stick of Lennart Petrell which is good for a couple of reasons. First it was at even strength so the main stream media can hopefully stop fixating on that as if it means something only a few games into the season. Second it was some production from the bottomw half of the Oilers lineup which has been lacking so far this season. And third, it filled my Twitter timeline with Is Mental references which is always fun.
  • The Petrell goal was actually quite reminiscent of many Oilers goals we've seen over the past few seasons.The puck gets turned over behind the net, in this case Ryan Smyth created the turnover with his hit on Oliver Ekman-Larsson. And when the puck eventually makes it's way to the slot the defender, Zbynek Michalek, is looking at the puck and Shane Doan doesn't stick with Petrell allowing him to slip between them to score the goal. Very Oilers-esque from a group that's a lot better than that.
  • The Oilers only penalty of the period went to Sam Gagner who got called for a slash on Lauri Korpikoski. It's a bit of a soft call but it's one where the player needs to be smarter that that. If I'm Korpikoski I'd drop my stick every time since there really is no risk associated with doing so and the referee will put his hand up every single time. I'm sort of surprised we don't see this more often.

Second Period

  • This was a boring 20 minutes of hockey. It took the Coyotes 13:37 to even record a shot on goal. The Oilers were a little bit better but not a hell of a lot. I know tickets are cheap in Phoenix but if that's what the fans are typically treated to then they're getting ripped off.
  • The Oilers best, and really only, scoring chance came when Gagner hit the post after receiving a nice setup pass from Ales Hemsky. As I said in the game thread Hemsky loves playing Phoenix and even though the didn't record a point tonight he looked great all night long and was a threat to score on a number of shifts. Gagner and Nail Yakupov both had good games as well, due in large part to the fact that they were the guys who were playing alongside Hemsky.

Third Period

  • Devan Dubnyk was solid in net again for the Oilers making four or five saves that helped keep the Oilers in the game. Dubnyk's biggest save might have been early in the third period when he turned aside Antoine Vermette on a breakaway. Thanks to a great stretch pass from Ekman-Larsson Vermette was able to get behind both Jeff Petry and Ladislav Smid but couldn't beat Dubnyk. Aside from a bad 20 minutes against San Jose Dubnyk has been better than I expected this season.
  • At the other end of the spectrum you find the Young Gunz who probably had their worst game of the season tonight. Things got particularly ugly for the trio during an Oilers power play late in the third period when all three decided to stand around and watch as the Coyotes almost tied the game while a man short. Rather than sit down a clearly struggling line in a one goal game Krueger sent them right back out once the Coyotes were at full strength. The results was two more shots for the Coyotes.
  • With 1:46 left in the game Gagner got called for interference. What was missed on the play was Doan interfering with Shawn Horcoff who was shaken up on the play. On the kill, Petrell and Eric Belanger took the draw and then changed with Smyth and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. The decision to send out Nugent-Hopkins is going to get some attention (my initial reaction wasn't positive) but with Gagner in the box and Horcoff getting looked at the Oilers didn't have a lot of options; Magnus Paajarvi was the only player on the bench who has more time on the penalty kill this season than RNH. Given his play up until that point I wouldn't have gone with Nugent-Hopkins but it's not as bad as it looked at first glance. Oh, Nick Johnson grabbed a loose puck and scored with 19 seconds left.

Overtime

  • The Oilers lethal power play, which had been pretty quite so far in the game, got another chance in overtime after Vermette got called for a high stick on Jordan Eberle. That set the stage for another impressive goal from Yakupov. After Taylor Hall's point shot bounced into the air and Yakupov, like he did against the Kings last week, knocked it out of the air and into the back of the net. Yakupov's shot is remarkable but so far this season it's been these ridiculous hand-eye coronation moments that have gotten the most attention.
  • After the goal Ryan Whitney supposedly said something to Derek Morris and Morris being the meat head he is decided to throw a few punches at Whitney. It's a gutless, garbage move on Morris' part and shouldn't be accepted by any one. Oddly enough it was a member of the Oilers media who was quick to defend Morris, I'm sure Don Cherry would be proud.
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