After starting out the new year with two respectable games beating the Nashville Predators and losing in a shootout to the New York Rangers, the Arizona Coyotes are again wondering what they need to do to win games.
An early lead disappeared... again
The game started out very well for the hometown Coyotes. They were swarming the Oilers' net and sending shots on goal.
And, you know... it worked.
Brad Richardson stormed the net after a shot from the left point by Jakub Chychrun banged off the crossbar... right to Richardson who backhanded it into the open net. Time of the goal was 2:03.
Simple enough play... but they were done yet.
Newly arrived winger Josh Archibald found himself wide open on the left post and a perfectly timed pass from Christian Dvorak gave the Yotes a quick two-goal lead.
It was all Oilers' head coach Todd McLellan wanted to see of starting goalie Cam Talbot and he got the yank in favor of Al Montoya.
Then, as has been the case this season, the Coyotes lose concentration, stare at super-star Connor McDavid, and lose the lead. Darnell Nurse scored first at 14:16 on a bullet of a shot from the left point.
Still, Annti Raanta should have made the save, he was not screened, and it found the net over his left shoulder.
A stoppable shot.
Patrick Maroon was able to get another one by Raanta when he was set up nicely Oscar Klefbom at 19:22 of the first stanza.
When the Coyotes allow their opponents to score in the last minute of a period, bad things seem to transpire. With 28 losses on the books, it seems apparent that this team can't be happy with prosperity when they experience it.
Scoreless second period
After four goals were scored in the first period, the middle stanza went scoreless. Both teams seemed satisfied with just being average. Five shots on goal by each team was an indication that neither team was fired up enough to take the lead.
Decisive third period
Darnell Nurse scored again at the 3:57 mark of the third period, and the writing was on the wall for the hapless Coyotes. He was able to beat Raanta again in almost the exact same spot as his first goal to give the visitor Oilers the lead 3-2.
The Oilers came into Gila River Arena losers of three straight, and only recording one win in their last eight games.
Still, they were resilient and hung in there.
Not so much was the performance by the Coyotes. Head coach Rick Tocchet stated: "We beat ourselves. Same song and dance."
While the Coyotes held McDavid scoreless, he still dominated play, especially when he skated through and around Arizona defenders holding on to the puck for at least 15 seconds before feeding Klefbom who fed Maroon for the tying goal.
The Oilers tried to help the Coyotes get back in the game late when Milan Lucic was called for tripping at 16:11 of the third period. The powerplay failed, and the Oilers tallied an empty net goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to seal the victory with 20 seconds remaining.
What's next for both teams
The Oilers will be traveling to Las Vegas to meet the red-hot Vegas Golden Knights. After that game, they will take their five-day furlough.
The Coyotes travel to San Jose to play the Sharks and try to figure out how to hold a lead when they are fortunate enough to get one.
Newly acquired winger Richard Panik played in his first game as a Coyote and looked good. GM John Chayka was singing his praises in an interview between periods.
He skated on a line with Derek Stepan and Brendan Perlini. He was on the ice for 16:39 and showed some promise.