GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ouch. That was gut-wrenching.
The Phoenix Coyotes were protecting a one-goal lead in the final minute of regulation until a gaffe by Thomas Greiss allowed Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner to tie the game with 40 seconds remaining.
Following a scoreless overtime, the Oilers completed the improbable comeback when Gagner scored the lone shootout goal in the fourth round — giving Edmonton the victory as the spoiler.
“They’re always a team that’s high offense, high skill,” said center Kyle Chipchura on the Oilers’ ability to get the victory despite their position in the standings. “When they cheat on plays, they can be dangerous.”
With 90 seconds remaining, Edmonton pulled goalie Ben Scrivens in an attempt to extend the game.
Greiss left the net to play a loose puck in the trapezoid area when he lost control and turned it over to Oilers center Jordan Eberle. He centered the puck to a charging Gagner who tapped it in uncontested — causing 14,732 jaws to drop in agony at Jobing.com Arena.
The Coyotes were playing well defensively once they went ahead 2-1, but one critical mistake overshadowed the entire effort.
“They had only one chance up until the puck went behind the net,” head coach Dave Tippett said after the game.
“We were all right. Doaner almost had a goal afterwards. I didn’t mind where we were at. We were pushing.”
The “pushing” that Tippett is referring to is when Shane Doan moved in on a breakaway attempt that Scrivens denied less than a minute after the goal. Despite the missed opportunity, Phoenix was awarded a power play — allowing two precious minutes to come off the clock with the Coyotes controlling the momentum.
It was a game the Coyotes desperately needed to win, given the circumstances. Phoenix had beaten Edmonton in all four of their previous meetings.
Instead, they settle for one point and have to overcome a tremendous setback during the final stretch of a seesaw playoff race against the Dallas Stars.
While Phoenix currently holds the eighth spot by one point in the Western Conference, Dallas still has two extra games left to play and will hold the tiebreaker advantage if that situation occurs.
The Coyotes appeared to overcome a poor start when they went ahead 2-1 with 7:18 left in the third period.
Chipchura scored his fifth goal of the season off a rebound following Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s wrister from the top of the point. The puck ricocheted off Scriven’s leg pad before Chipchura beat him on the blocker side.
Ekman-Larsson was also responsible for tying the game at 1 with a power play goal in the second period. Phoenix won the opening face off and it took 13 seconds for Ekman-Larsson to wrist his shot top shelf past Scrivens from the far circle.
It was the Swede’s 14th goal of the season.
While Edmonton tied the contest in the final minute of the third, they also started the scoring getting a goal with 45 seconds remaining in the first period.
Defenseman Justin Schultz corralled a centering pass from teammate Taylor Hall and his wrist shot beat Greiss’ glove side. The puck actually deflected off forward Lauri Korpikoski who fell to the ice in an attempt to block the shot.
The Coyotes power play continues to be a strength of the team, as they rank 6th in the NHL in power play percentage. They went 1-for-2 tonight on special teams and killed off the only penalty they committed.
Up until his critical mishap, Thomas Greiss played a good game — good enough to help his team win. He had 24 saves on 26 shots on goal. He also stopped the first three shootout attempts he faced, but his team’s offense could not bail him out.
The Coyotes have now lost four straight home games, and have blown a lead in the third period on three of those instances.
The Coyotes settled for one point versus the Oilers, giving them at least a point against their Canadian foes in 13 straight games dating back to 2011.
He Said It
“There’s no time to hang your hat now. It’s like losing a game in overtime of the playoffs. You got to get right back at it, and that’s where we’re at now.” -Dave Tippett
The Coyotes travel to Columbus Tuesday as both teams try to bounce back from heartbreaking home losses. The Blue Jackets allowed the Blackhawks to score the game winning goal with 3 seconds left in regulation amidst a playoff race of their own. Columbus and Toronto are battling for the final Eastern Conference playoff slot as one point also separates them. Face off will be at 4:00pm PST on 860 AM.