Coyotes race to 4-goal lead, hold off Oilers 4-3

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 25, 2014 at 1:23 am •  Published: January 25, 2014

EDMONTON, Alberta (AP) — The Phoenix Coyotes almost gave away a game by believing it was in the bag.

Mike Ribeiro had a goal and an assist and Mike Smith made 36 saves to help the Coyotes hold off the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 on Friday night.

Mikkel Boedker, Radim Vrbata and Derek Morris also scored as Phoenix raced to a 4-0 lead early in the second period. But then the momentum shifted and the Coyotes found themselves hanging on to earn two points.

"They kept coming and we let them back into it," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "We talked about getting that fourth one, we got the fourth one and then we kind of eased up. We have to keep going. We can't afford to do that."

Phoenix improved to 4-0 in the five-game season series with its eighth victory in the last nine trips to Edmonton. The Coyotes have won five straight and 10 of 12 overall against the Oilers.

The Coyotes improved to 24-18-9 this season, ending a two-game losing streak and a five-game road skid. Phoenix coach Dave Tippett, however, said his team was fortunate the lead wasn't erased altogether.

"Once the score got up 4-0, we made a couple of mistakes, we let them back in the game and made it tight," he said. "I thought we played well for 30 minutes and for the next 30 minutes we hung on.

"Coming out of the third period with a lead like that on the road, you should really salt that game away. It's not that we took our foot off the gas, it's the puck mistakes, the penalties, those kind of things. Things that real good teams don't do, and those are still things that are a work in progress for our group."

Matt Hendricks, David Perron and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for Edmonton. The Oilers have lost six in a row for the second time this season to drop to 15-32-6. Three points ahead of last-place Buffalo, the Oilers have only two wins in their last 13 games.

"It's been a common theme this year, our consistency," Nugent-Hopkins said. "We might play good for the first period and then sag in the second and play good in the third. We have to find a way to stop doing that. We are killing ourselves with efforts like that, not playing a full game."

The Coyotes opened the scoring with 5:43 left in the first period when Antoine Vermette made a cross-ice pass and Boedker beat goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with a wrist shot to the top corner for his 15th goal.

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