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Arizona Coyotes howl one last time with win over Edmonton Oilers

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The Arizona Coyotes ended their existence with a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers Wednesday night. The NHL franchise is moving to Salt Lake City.

“It’s tough,” Oilers head coach Kris Knoblauch said after the game. “You always talk about getting up for the game and getting ready for an emotional one — they’re going to come out hard and let’s go get it — but coming off a big win at home, and we’re also looking forward to the playoffs, and I think the guys’ hearts were in it, … I think they executed OK.

“I don’t think there was poor plays with the pucks — throwing pucks out blind and not working hard. It just wasn’t a total engagement and I think we played OK. And maybe we win some of those games playing like that, but tonight wasn’t our night.”

The Coyotes scored an early goal when the puck hit the referee and bounced to Liam O’Brien, who buried a shot past Oilers goaltender Calvin Pickard.

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Oilers forward Sam Carrick tied it, deftly deflecting a slap pass from Mattias Ekholm for his 10th of the season.

Arizona’s Mattias Maccelli went to the backhand on a breakaway to make it 2-1 Coyotes in the second.

Lawson Crouse finished off a nice passing play to extend the Arizona lead five minute into the third.

Three minutes later, Oilers winger Warren Foegele cut into the middle and sniped his 20th of the season.

The Coyotes replied with a power-play goal from former Edmonton Oil King Dylan Guenther.

Pickard was pulled for an extra attacker with 5:12 left. Sean Durzi promptly scored an empty-netter for the Coyotes.

“Obviously we knew what we were going to get in terms of them being fired up, playing in front of their fans tonight,” Pickard said. “It wasn’t a great start for us with that bounce for a breakaway, but I thought we settled in.

“Give them credit, they played pretty good (and) made some good plays. Their skill kind of went to work on a few of those goals, so we’ll learn from it. Obviously, you want to be playing the right way going into the playoffs. (We have) another chance tomorrow.”

Coyotes players were informed last week the NHL club is relocating to Salt Lake City.

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Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith is expected to buy the franchise from current owner Alex Meruelo in a $1.2 billion deal through the NHL, as early as Thursday.

The Oilers (49-26-6) will conclude the regular season on the road against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. You can listen to the game live on 630 CHED, beginning with The Faceoff Show at 6 p.m. The actual game starts at 7:30 p.m.

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