The Edmonton Oilers paid tribute to former hockey great Glenn Anderson in fine style Sunday night, defeating the visiting Phoenix Coyotes 6-3 at Rexall Place.
Captain Ethan Moreau led the Oilers offensively with his first career hat trick and forward Dustin Penner netted the game winner in the second period.
Right-winger Ales Hemsky successfully returned to the lineup with a pair of goals. He missed the team's previous 10 games with a concussion.
Moreau, who scored his third goal into an empty net with one second to play, said it felt good to finally get a hat trick in his 13th season in the NHL.
"It's even more special because all of my teammates were looking for me at the end," he said. "I knew when Stevie [Staios] got it he would be thinking about one thing. Trying to get me the puck. It makes you feel good that they were very aware that I had two goals and they wanted to see me get the hat trick."
Hemsky, the Oilers' leading scorer this season with 37 points in 35 games, looked to be right back to where he left off before he was sidelined.
"I'm very happy to come back like this," Hemsky said. "I took a couple hits in the game and my head reacted well, so I'm pretty happy about that. I knew it would be tough coming back from this but I got a goal pretty early on and that really gave me confidence."
Penner added an assist for Edmonton (23-19-3), which has won four of its last five games and passed Minnesota for eighth place in the NHL's Western Conference standings.
"We haven't had an energetic game like that all year," said Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish. "It was a pretty complete game on our part tonight. All of the lines were good. The team's turning a corner now I think."
In front of Coyotes coach and former teammate Wayne Gretzky, as well as many other Oiler greats, Anderson's No. 9 was raised to the rafters to the delight of the sold-out crowd.
Hall of Famer
Anderson, who finished his NHL career with 498 goals and 1,099 points, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November.
The Coyotes (23-19-5) headed into the matchup with Edmonton beating the Vancouver Canucks and streaking Calgary Flames before finishing their Western Canada road swing on Sunday against the Oilers.
Keith Yandle, Daniel Carcillo and Peter Mueller scored for Phoenix, while goalie Ilja Bryzgalov stopped 23 Edmonton shots.
"I thought as a team we played pretty well tonight," Gretzky said. "We're playing against a team in a similar situation that we're in. We're battling for our lives and every game is important.
"We knew that it was a big night for their organization and their players are going to feed off of that and they played well tonight."
The Oilers took a 2-1 lead as Hemsky made an immediate impact in his first game back, splitting the defence and freezing Bryzgalov with a deke for his 11th the season.
Edmonton made it a two-goal advantage with just one minute to play in the opening frame as Gilbert hit Moreau with a pass as he was driving to the net and the Oilers captain deflected in his second of the contest.
After Carcillo and Mueller pulled Phoenix even at 3-3, Edmonton regained the advantage with eight minutes to go in the second period after a great job cycling the puck in the Coyotes zone as Shawn Horcoff fed a backhand pass out front to Penner, who rifled it past Bryzgalov for his 11th.
Phoenix outshot Edmonton 21-14 through the first 40 minutes.
Hemsky added his second of the game with just 1:37 to play as his wrist-shot goal gave the Oilers some late insurance.
Moreau made it 6-3 with his hat trick goal into the empty cage.
Both teams return to action on Tuesday as Edmonton plays the second game of its six-game homestand against the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Coyotes return to Phoenix to face Detroit.