Connect with us

Arizona Coyotes

Coyotes beat Oilers 5-2 in emotional, final game as a franchise

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Arizona Coyotes have finished the final season as a franchise in the Valley, capping off 28 years of hockey with a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!

Sean Durzi, Dylan Guenther, Lawson Crouse, Liam O’Brien and Matias Maccelli all scored for the Coyotes (36-41-5).  Connor Ingram made 28 saves in the last victory before the ‘Yotes relocate to Salt Lake City, Utah.

Sam Carrick and Warren Foegele had the goals for the Oilers (49-25-7). Former Coyote Calvin Pickard made 19 saves in the defeat.

One Last Ride

Even before the game started, the energy was a bag of mixed feelings and emotions just walking to Mullett Arena.

A crowd of fans stood outside of the venue for more than an hour before puck drop, knowing that this would be the final time they would see NHL hockey in Arizona for the foreseeable future.

“I am so happy to see a crowd like this come out and support this team that means so much to me,” Coyotes fan Mark White said. “At the same time, we all know the magnitude of this game and it is really sad and depressing. I cried a few times earlier today just because the Coyotes have meant so much to me and after tonight, they are gone.”

Others expressed the memories they have had all the way to this point – from America West Arena (now Footprint Center) to Glendale Arena (now Desert Diamond Arena) to Tempe.

“I remember so much from when the team moved into Glendale,” fan Doug Harley said. “The guys like Shane Doan and Radim Vrbata, the Red Wings playoff series’ and the Whiteout, there is just so much to remember. It still hasn’t really sunk in that I won’t be seeing the Coyotes for a while, maybe ever again.”

O’Brien and Co. Cause Chaos

Turning tears to igniting a roar of cheers, Juuso Välimäki served O’Brien on a platter with a cross-ice pass before O’Brien sniped over the left shoulder of Pickard 2:18 in.

After Ryan Nugent-Hopkins believed he tied the game with shot off the crossbar, the puck didn’t cross the goal line. The officials did initiate a review and their look at the play took no more than 10 seconds.

Finding a breakthrough, Carrick planted himself in the slot and redirected a point shot by Mattias Ekholm, evening the score 1-1 with 6:54 left in the first period.

The second frame would present a back-and-forth flow amidst the loud Coyotes fans creating an electric atmosphere.

Causing the ‘Yotes faithful to go into absolute madness, Maccelli made no mistake on a breakaway, tucking his 17th goal of the season for a 2-1 lead.

In his NHL debut, Coyotes rookie Aku Räty had a memorable moment that will last forever as he recorded his first NHL point as he assisted on Maccelli’s goal.

“I was really nervous for that game,” Tourigny said. “I wanted our players to play a great game, everybody wanted to finish on a positive note and give a really, really strong effort for our fans.”

Arizona’s momentum translated over into the third period as Lawson Crouse pulled the Coyotes ahead 3-1 with a wrist shot from the slot.

Foegele scored to get the Oilers within one 3-2, but that was as close as Edmonton would get.

Sealing the deal, Guenther sniped top-right corner on the power play before Durzi iced the game with an empty netter to lock up a 5-2 Coyotes win.

Real, Raw Reaction

Gauging the feel from outside and inside Mullett Arena made anyone who understood the situation emotional.

The fans, the Coyotes staff, players, team personnel, etc. Almost no one – unless some Oilers fans – shed some type of sorrow because after the final buzzer of the third period, that was it and the news of the team’s relocation to Utah was up next.

Clayton Keller, an eight-year Coyote, began his career with the organization after being a first-round pick in the 2016 Draft.

He has been through the ups and downs of the franchise and it really hit him that Arizona will not be home much longer.

“Obviously, I played my whole career here and have grown up here,” Keller said. “Been with so many great people who helped me succeed. It’s just a special place in my heart and there is a lot of emotions for sure.”

“Just seeing the fans’ support means so much to us and it was great to see that, it put a smile on everyone’s face.”

Echoing the same sentiment, O’Brien was pleased with the team’s performance and for them giving the fans the final send-off they deserved.

“It’s just a moment of gratitude for how good Arizona has been to me in the last three years, so it felt nice,” O’Brien said. “Just winning the game for the fans felt so good, felt good to give them that and leave on that note.”

There has yet to be an official statement from the NHL or the Coyotes that the sale of the team to Utah is final even though it is imminent.

Based on reports, if Coyotes owner Alex Meruelo – who didn’t show up to the final game – sells the team, he has a “five-year window” to bring back the franchise but as an expansion team.

The team showed glimpses of what could have been in Arizona with an exciting future for the team going forward. Keller, Guenther, Maccelli, Josh Doan, Logan Cooley and Sean Durzi were just some of the players who were coming into their own and the team was only going to get better from here.

Now the team is destined to leave the Valley and head to Salt Lake City, leaving behind history that will not be forgotten.

Whatever the future holds with the sport in Arizona, the fans have stayed loyal through thick and thin and showed that hockey belongs in the desert.


Coyotes fall to Flames 6-5 in potentially final away game as a franchise

*Get the BEST Phoenix sports insider information, exclusive content, and access to our seasonal magazines! SIGN UP HERE to unlock our premium content!*

Reporter Alec Cipollini covers Phoenix Sports News for Burn City Sports. You can follow him on his X account, @AlecCipollini

More in Arizona Coyotes