Yandle leads Coyotes rally vs. Oilers

Craig Morgan, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Keith Yandle is hoping to make the U.S. Olympic team when the rosters are announced Wednesday evening. It would be hard for the Phoenix Coyotes defenseman to make a stronger last-minute case than he did on New Year's Eve.
Yandle set up winger Mikkel Boedker's game-tying goal with one minute and 10 seconds remaining in regulation, then buried the game-winner with 6.5 seconds left in overtime to complete a three-point night as the Coyotes rallied to beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Tuesday at Jobing.com Arena.
"I haven't gotten any hints whatsoever," said Yandle when asked about his Olympic prospects. "From what I'm told, we're going to find out when everybody else finds out."
Tuesday's game marked the sixth straight overtime game for Phoenix, which set a franchise record. The Coyotes have also registered a league-high 14 points in games in which they've trailed by two or more goals this season.
"We don't mind it," Yandle said. "We like coming from behind to win. If you look at the games we've been down, we've shown resilience and the calmness in our group to know that we can get a goal and get back in it."
Phoenix jumped out to a 1-0 lead on the power play when Yandle covered for his own gaffe by intercepting a clearing pass, dodging defenders and ripping a low shot past the blocker side of Edmonton goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov 10:59 into the first period.
But despite a decided edge in play for the Coyotes, the Oilers evened the game at 1 with just over a minute left in the period when center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins somehow knocked a puck between his own legs with his back to the Phoenix net. Coyotes goalie Mike Smith never saw the shot and it slipped between his legs.
Edmonton then widened its lead to 3-1 with a pair of goals less than seven minutes into the second period. Forward David Perron scored his 17th goal of the season on forward Taylor Hall's second assist of the night. Defenseman Justin Schultz then took a feed from Hall in the deep slot and snapped a shot through Smith's pads for a 3-1 lead.
"The first period was the first taste and we didn't like that that much," said Oilers coach Dallas Eakins in explaining his team's turnaround.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett didn't like what he was seeing so he opted to change goalies to backup Thomas Greiss. Smith was victimized by some poor defensive zone coverage, but he allowed three goals on just 10 shots.
"The change in goal was strictly about changing momentum," Tippett said. "Greisser came in and stabilized things a little bit for us there and our team found a way to hang around."
Phoenix winger Tim Kennedy pulled the Coyotes within 3-2 at the 12:05 mark of the second period when he banked a shot off Bryzgalov's leg from behind the end line and into the net.
With the Coyotes applying steady pressure in the third period, Yandle finally set up the equalizer by drawing the defense and Bryzgalov to him before slipping the puck to Boedker for an easy tap-in.
He then beat Bryzgalov on a breakaway over the shoulder with the clock winding down in overtime to earn the Coyotes two points.
"If there's a way to put a last-minute push on, that was a great last-minute push," Tippett said of Yandle. "Obviously, I'm biased, but I see him day in, day out and he's been one of our top players. I certainly think he deserves to be there. He's played well enough to be there."
The loss dropped Edmonton to 2-11-2 all-time in New Year's Eve games.
"In the second and third, I thought we played well," Eakins said. "I thought we were matching them and (Nugent-Hopkins' line) was really getting after them. That last goal was tough to swallow."
NOTES: Coyotes GM Don Maloney said the club is close to terminating RW Gilbert Brule's contract after he refused a re-assignment to the AHL. ... The Coyotes play 14 of their final 20 games before the Olympic break at Jobing.com Arena. ... After being recalled from Portland of the AHL on Monday, Coyotes RW Chris Brown was a scratch Tuesday. ... The Coyotes are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks for the NHL lead for most players with 10 or more goals (six). ... Oilers G Ilya Bryzgalov, who started Tuesday, spent almost four seasons with the Coyotes after being claimed off waivers from Anaheim in November of 2007. ... After registering three assists in the game's first 27 minutes, Oilers LW Taylor Hall has recorded multiple-point games in four of his last six games.

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