The Arizona Coyotes are definitely in need of some elevated play to move them up in the standings.
The disappointing 4-2 loss against the Calgary Flames on Monday night displayed this team's lack of puck control, discipline to avoid penalties, and downright lack of competitive play.
Tonight, facing an improved Edmonton Oilers team may inject some confidence in their overall game plan since they have a 25 game point streak against the Oilers.
First period was all Oilers
The Oliers jumped all over the Coyotes and at 8:13 they scored the first goal of the game by Mark Letestu in a scramble in front of Mike Smith's net. Arizona Head Coach Dave Tippett challenged the play suggesting that Matt Hendricks was in the crease obstructing Smith.
Officials disagreed, and the goal stood. Edmonton had a one goal lead. The Oilers were dominating play and scored again at 15:07 on a power play caused by a tripping call to young defenseman Jakob Chychurn. This time Milan Lucic got the close in score as it bounced off his skate and past Smith.
The same issues which have affected the Coyotes' lack of success were apparent in this period. Puck possession was poor at best, and no offense was being generated.
Shots on goals were not indicative of the Edmonton's dominance with the Oilers having 12 to the Coyotes 11.
Middle frame facts
The Oilers kept up the strong pressure offensively and scored again to take a commanding 3-0 lead when Matt Hendricks scored his first of the season. He was wide open as the porous Arizona defense could do nothing to help goalie Mike Smith.
The Coyotes finally got their stuff together and scored on a deflection by Martin Hanzal from a point shot by Radim Vrbata. The goal should have inspired the Arizona club to begin a comeback, but the period ended with the visiting Oilers leading 3-1.
Third period was action packed and penalty filled
Ten penalties against both teams filled the third period, with fisticuffs, and power plays galore. But, with five minutes remaining, there was no scoring to report.
Luke Schenn got into it with Eric Gryba at 5:42 after the Oiler sat on Chychurn's head as he was hit to the ice. Schenn received an instigator minor, and a fighting major, while Gryba got five for fighting and another five minute major for targeting the head of Chychurn.
The good fortune the Coyotes received with the man advantage was short lived, as Vrbata got a minor for hooking, erasing the possibility of getting back in this game.
At 19:16, after the Coyotes had pulled Mike Smith, a real donnybrook broke out in the right corner. Oliver Ekman-Larsson was viciously cross checked by goon Zack Kassian. That didn't sit too well with captain Shane Doan who took on Kassian after he rabbit punched Anthony Duclair.
Then, Martin Hanzal and Mark Letestu decided to join the fray. In the end, Ekman-Larsson was able to pull his team within one by scoring with six seconds remaining.
It was the same old story of the Coyotes chasing the game, and not being able to take command early and hold the lead, causing their downfall.
Key to the game
The Coyotes allowed the Oilers to strike first and then let them do it again. Coming from behind has not been this team's forte, and they need to finish off this homestand with three victories to get some momentum gathered. The Yotes managed to hold Connor McDavid off the scoreboard, but failed to address the success of Edmonton's fourth line.
Auston Matthews and his Toronto Maple Leafs will be in Glendale on Friday night to take on the team Matthews grew up following from his hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. Just imagine how he feels playing against one of his heroes (Shane Doan) he grew up idolizing.