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Coyotes close out 28-year tenure in Arizona with 5-2 win over Oilers

Arizona Coyotes center Liam O'Brien (38) scores a goal against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) as Oilers defenseman Philip Broberg, right rear, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin / The Associated Press) Arizona Coyotes center Liam O'Brien (38) scores a goal against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Calvin Pickard (30) as Oilers defenseman Philip Broberg, right rear, watches during the first period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Tempe, Ariz. (Ross D. Franklin / The Associated Press)
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TEMPE, Ariz. -

The Coyotes closed out their 28-year Arizona tenure as winners, getting a goal and an assist from Dylan Guenther in a 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday night.

The Coyotes buzzed early at Mullett Arena and closed strong in their final game before moving to Salt Lake City.

Liam O'Brien got the finale started with a goal less than three minutes in and Sean Durzi capped it with a empty-net goal to send Coyotes fans home happy — at least for one last night. Matias Maccelli and Lawson Crouse also scored, and Connor Ingram had 25 saves for Arizona.

“This is the last one in Arizona for a little bit and we wanted to have a good effort, show that to the fans," Coyotes forward Clayton Keller said.

Sam Carrick and Warren Foegele scored for the playoff-bound Oilers. Calvin Pickard had 16 saves in the first game of a back-to-back to close the regular season for Edmonton.

“You talk about the game, getting ready for an emotional one, they're going to come out hard,” Oilers coach Kris Knoblauch said. “But we're also looking to the playoffs. We played OK and maybe you win some games like that.”

The Coyotes and their fans spent years hoping relocation rumors wouldn't come through.

Rumor became reality this week when Alex Meruelo agreed to sell franchise's hockey operations to Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, who intends to move the team to Salt Lake City.

The Coyotes franchise could be revived; Meruelo will have the rights to an expansion team if he can build a new arena within five years.

That made Wednesday night's game a finale one way or another and the fans treated it like one big party, creating a buzz unlike any during the Coyotes' two years at Mullett Arena.

The Coyotes felt the energy and fed off it, opening with some big hits and a goal by O'Brien 2:18 in, sending the roaring crowd to their feet.

“There were a lot of emotions and there was a lot of sadness,” Coyotes coach André Tourigny said. “We've gone through a bit of adversity and I'm really proud the way the players responded.”

The Oilers killed the buzz by turning up the pressure and tying it on Carrick's redirected goal midway through the first period.

Ingram made some difficult saves and Maccelli got the party rolling again by scoring on a breakaway late in the second period, setting off a roar that was followed by a chant of “Salt Lake sucks!”

Crouse made it 3-1 by flipping a backhander past Pickard early in the third period, but Foegele tied it with a shot from the slot that beat Ingram to the glove side.

Guenther pushed it back to a two-goal lead and Durzi capped the festive desert finale after Edmonton pulled Pickard for an extra attacker.

“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, but we kind of bounced back.”

Correction

This story has been updated to correct the number of years the Coyotes played at Mullett Arena to two instead of three.

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