Ex-Flame lights up the desert

Something had to give. The Oilers and Coyotes were both shut out in their last respective games, and neither club had done much in the way of offense recently.

Definitely no stranger to the Oilers, former Flames centre Matthew Lombardi had gone without a point in his last five games and easily made up for that by racking up two goals and three assists in the 6-1 final. One could argue he could have even added to that total, as he was dangerous in the Oilers' zone all night long. One could also argue that Dave Tippett deserves credit for putting him on the wing and having ex-Hab Robert Lang take over as centreman (Lang finished with 3 points of his own, for those interested).


See the sign up there? Yeah.

The win came at a price, however, as team captain Shane Doan suffered one of three upper-body injuries reported during the game. Vernon Fiddler and recent call-up Joel Perrault were the other two, and they'll all get a second look on Tuesday. So while Lombardi's offensive outburst may have calmed the spirits calling for Scottie Upshall's speedy recovery, they may soon be clamoring for other 'Yotes to step up with their output as well, for poor Ilya Bryzgalov's sake (33 saves in the almost-shutout that was callously jinxed by Sportsnet West).

Possible suspects:

Radim Vrbata. He also made his mark against Edmonton, and his electrifying moves and hockey sense have the potential to reach the level he was at when he scored 27 goals two seasons ago, if not surpass it.

Petr Prucha. Ditto. Unless he's busy dropping the gloves as he did (and credit him for that, even if those are the kinds of fights you normally cringe watching) in this game.

Ed Jovanovski. Tonight's game-opening marker put him at 10 on the year and second among defensemen on the Coyotes. His resume has proven he's capable of providing an injection of offense when needed. When Phoenix has been in search of a turning point or a momentum boost, it's his name that usually winds up on the board.

And the darkhorse: Adrian Aucoin. Another not-so-washed-up defenseman who recently proved to be the difference in both shootouts preceding the loss to Dallas. Yes, I do realize he is not quite his Canucks of 1999 self anymore, but not one of his 22 points this season should be undervalued.