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Rookie Yakupov gives Oilers OT win against Coyotes

The SportsXchange

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Edmonton has found its big-play specialist in rookie Nail Yakupov.

Yakupov's fourth goal of the season, his third on the power play, lifted the Oilers to a 2-1 overtime victory over Phoenix on Wednesday, breaking a five-game losing streak in the series. Yakupov scored 3:52 into overtime, tipping a puck redirected by defenseman Jeff Petry past Coyotes goaltender Chad Johnson.

"Nail has that role in that 4-on-3 the way we have it set up, to be the cleanup man," Edmonton coach Ralph Krueger said.

"He really has outstanding hand-eye coordination. I think that puck was probably on the ice by the time he hit it, but it might have been on the ice only a millisecond when he swatted it in."

Yakupov, 19, scored after Coyotes center Antoine Vermette was called for high-sticking. The Coyotes believe the goal should have been disallowed.

"It's obvious it's a missed call," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "It hit off his hand, and the next guy that touched it is the one who scored."

Added Oilers center Sam Gagner: "It's another big goal for Nail. He seems to have a knack for scoring those goals. He seems to be a goal-scorer. It's to put your finger on how guys score goals like that. He just seems to find a way all the time, and it's pretty impressive."

Phoenix right wing Nick Johnson tied the score with 19 seconds remaining in regulation on a 6-on-4 advantage after an interference penalty against Gagner with 1:46 remaining. The Coyotes pulled goalie Chad Johnson for a two-man advantage with 1:20 left.

"Each game has had its own storyline. I thought more than anything, dealing with that late goal and sticking with it to get the two points showed a lot of character. Another real big growth opportunity for our group," Krueger said.

Edmonton (4-2) beat the Coyotes for the first time in since Jan. 25, 2011. The Coyotes (2-4-1) had won 10 of the last 11 in the series.

The Oilers, who have missed the playoffs in each of the last six seasons and had a league-low 62 points last season, have won back-to-back games for the first time since March 23-25 of last season.

"I thought we played hard enough to win tonight," Tippett said. "Johnson gave us another solid game ... both of them. It's unfortunate not to get two points out of that, because I think we deserved two points."

Johnson, signed as a free agent in July, scored for the second straight game after being recalled from Portland of the American Hockey League on Jan. 23. Radim Vrbata put a shot in front, and Johnson found the open right side of the net. Vrbata has assists in the last four games.

"It was nice to be out there at the end," Johnson said. "I just kind of turned and it was right on my tape. Lucky, but it definitely felt good."

Dubnyk, who was within seconds of his fifth career shutout, stopped 27 shots, including a breakaway by Vermette early in the third period. Dubnyk signed a two-year, $7 million contract extension in July and has started every game this season.

"He's been unbelievable. It's tough not getting him the shutout tonight. He made some big-time saves for us," Gagner said.

"The 6-on-4 situation is always really difficult when you get that down the stretch. You wouldn't have wished that on 'Dubie.' We need the two points, so all the other statistics become irrelevant," Krueger said.

Lennert Petrell scored his first goal of the season 4:51 into the game for a 1-0 Oilers lead. Ryan Smith brought the puck out from the behind the net in front, and Petrell beat Chad Johnson high.

Johnson made his second start in place of Mike Smith, who missed his fourth straight game after suffering a lower-body injury in the first period of a 5-1 victory over Columbus on Jan. 23. Johnson, 26, stopped 21 shots for his first career shutout in his first start Monday, a 4-0 victory over Nashville. Johnson's only other NHL victory came against Colorado, 3-1, on Jan. 31, 2010, when he was with the New York Rangers.

NOTES: Smith (lower-body injury) was eligible to return against Edmonton, but the Coyotes instead gave Johnson his second straight start after backup Jason LaBarbera lost his two starts while filling in for Smith. LaBarbera was 5-0 with a 1.20 goals-against average in five starts against the Oilers. Smith went through the entire practice Wednesday and is expected to return Friday in Dallas, the first of back-to-back games against the Stars. ... Coyotes left wing Raffi Torres is eligible to return against Dallas Saturday after serving a 20-game suspension for a hit against Chicago right wing Marian Hossa in Game 3 of the first round of the 2012 Western Conference playoffs on March 27. Hossa suffered a concussion and did not play the final three games of the series. Torres' suspension was reduced from 25 games after an offseason appeal. ... Edmonton waived goaltender Yani Danis on Tuesday and used veteran Nikolai Khabibulin, a former Coyote, to back up Dubnyk. Khabibulin has not played this season because of injury. ... Edmonton will finish the first of its eight back-to-back games in San Jose on Thursday. Seven of those back-to-backs will come on the road. ... Left wing Steve Sullivan, the Coyotes' leading scorer with four goals, was scratched with a lower-body injury.
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