EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers will live to fight another day after coming back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 in a shootout Saturday afternoon at Rexall Place.
It was a must-win game for an Oilers team whose season was hanging by a thread, sitting in 13th place, having gone 1-3 through the first four games of a crucial five game homestand and with a nine-game, 17-day road trip up next.
"I thought this was a really critical moment in our season, to stay with the pack," Oilers coach Ralph Krueger said. "We were very disappointed with the last few games and the magnitude of these points was clear.
"To be down 2-0 was a real test of our mettle and our makeup. The team stayed with it. To persevere, to go on the road with these points gives us some good energy here when we desperately need it."
It looked grim early, with the Coyotes' Kyle Chipchura making it 1-0 just 5:23 into the first period. Not only were the Coyotes 31-13-5 against Canadian teams since 2009, they were a staggering 105-13-15 when scoring first.
And when they made it 2-0 on Matthew Lombardi's power-play goal midway through the second period, it looked over.
But Jordan Eberle scored late in the second period and Teemu Hartikainen's power-play goal eight minutes into the third got them to overtime and then the shootout, where Sam Gagner and Eberle scored on highlight-reel dekes and netminder Nikolai Khabibulin blanked the first two Phoenix shooters. There was no need for a third.
"Those were two of the best penalty shots I've seen in my life," Krueger said. "I don't think it would have mattered who was at the other end. (MIke) Smith is one of the best goalies in the league, but that was world class.
"And Nikolai looked unbelievable aggressive and strong in the net. I don't think anybody would have gotten anything by him tonight. He wanted this one pretty bad."
So did Coyotes coach Dave Tippett, who was angry that his team had the Oilers where it wanted them and let them off the hook.
"We just kept giving them the puck back," Tippett said. "And when you keep giving the puck back to them, they're going to do good things with it.
"We'll take the two points, but that's a game I'd like to see our team lock down and put away."
The Coyotes were minus regulars Martin Hanzal, Radim Vrbata, David Schlemko and Derek Morris, but if you're good enough to be up 2-0, you're good enough to close it out, Tippett said.
"We had some regulars out, but we expect the people who are in to do the job for us," Tippett said.
NOTES: Oilers winger Taylor Hall served the first of his two-game suspension for his low and late hit on Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck. ... LW Ryan Jones, who'd been out all year after being hit in the eye with a puck in a practice session during the lockout, returned to the lineup. ... Coyotes captain Shane Doan, with 322 goals. is one goal from tying Keith Tkachuk for second place on the franchise's career list. ... Phoenix LW Raffi Torres played his 600th NHL game. ... After scoring five goals in his first eight games, rookie Nail Yakupov is on a nine-game scoring drought. ... Oilers LW Ryan Smyth has four points in four games since returning from being a healthy scratch.