Whitney, Vrbata lift Coyotes over Oilers 3-1

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The Associated Press
Friday, March 18, 2011; 1:40 AM

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Phoenix Coyotes played one of their worst games of the season.

Fortunately for them, they were playing the worst team in the league.

Ray Whitney and Radim Vrbata each had a goal and an assist Thursday and the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 for their fourth victory in a row.

"We didn't play very good at all," Whitney said. "It's one of those games where you take the points and leave it at that. I don't think we are going to kid ourselves and think we played good in any fashion. Ilya Bryzgalov was good in net again but that has been the story the last month. If we play like that tomorrow (in Vancouver) they could score in double digits."

Lee Stempniak also scored for the Coyotes who are 5-0-1 in their last six.

Magnus Paajarvi scored for the Oilers who have lost five straight and have an NHL-low 55 points.

"The guys played their guts out tonight," Oilers coach Tom Renney said. "You can name any element of our game tonight and we tried. It doesn't always translate into what you want."

Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 35 shots for the Coyotes.

Stempniak got Phoenix on the board with just 47 seconds remaining in the first period. He took a nice little chip pass from Lauri Korpikoski and held off Andrew Cogliano to slip the puck under Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin.

The Coyotes went up 2-0 just past the midway point of the second. Vrbata sent Whitney in on a partial breakaway and he looked to have stuffed the puck between Khabibulin's pad and the post. It was called a goal on the ice, and a review was ruled inconclusive, leaving the original call standing.

Edmonton had a great chance to get back into the game early in the third as Andrew Cogliano was awarded a penalty shot after being slashed by Keith Yandle on a breakaway attempt. However, he was not able to beat Phoenix starter Ilya Bryzgalov.

Minutes later Cogliano received the puck on the doorstep with a wide-open net, but lost control of it.

Edmonton finally beat Bryzgalov on its seventh power play opportunity, six minutes into the third as Paajarvi fired a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle behind Bryzgalov. Teemu Hartikainen earned an assist on the play for a point in his first career NHL game.

The Coyotes got some insurance with eight minutes remaining when Vrbata's shot went off the post beat Khabibulin to make it 3-1.

Edmonton appeared to have scored with 39 seconds left but it was ruled that the goaltender was interfered with even though no penalty was assessed.

"We came for two points and we were very fortunate to get two points tonight," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. "Bryzgalov was excellent and the rest of our group, not so much. We didn't play very well as a group and that's the bottom line. We took poor penalties at poor times and we just didn't play very well."

Notes: With a rash of injuries to skilled forwards such as Ales Hemsky, Taylor Hall, Shawn Horcoff and Sam Gagner, the Oilers had only nine forwards for Wednesday's practice. Alexandre Giroux, Ryan O'Marra and Chris Vande Velde joined the team from Oklahoma City for the game, Teemu Hartikainen was brought up a couple days earlier. Vande Velde and Hartikainen made their NHL debuts. ... Neither team had a player in the lineup who has scored 20 goals this season. ... Edmonton D Theo Peckham (concussion) has started skating again and could be back with the team on Saturday.


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