I’m always cautiously heedful of teams heading back into action after a prolonged period of time off and the Arizona Coyotes return to action against the Edmonton Oilers supported my theory that too much time between games in the NHL is a bad thing.
With Richard Panik replacing Anthony Duclair in the Sedona Red during the week off, the Coyotes had some wholly good news coming in the form of a healthy Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jakob Chychrun suiting up for the same game for the first time ever - a sign that Arizona’s worst hockey of the season is hopefully a thing of the past.
And things were looking fantastic after the Coyotes scored two goals in the opening 3:17, chasing Cam Talbot from the game. But halfway through the opening period the ice tilted in favour of the Oilers and Arizona spent the remainder of the match looking lost, searching for ways to stop the visitors from eating away at their lead - eventually losing the game 4-2 to a surging Edmonton.
1-0 Arizona: After winning a face-off, Jordan Martinook fed the puck back to Jakob Chychrun. Chychrun then released his shot from the point which hit the crossbar before Brad Richardson swept in to score off the rebound at 2:03.
2-0 Arizona: Clayton Keller and Christian Dvorak teamed up to carry the puck into the offensive zone and then run circles around the Oilers’ defenders. Having confused the boys from Edmonton, Dvorak took the puck from Keller and drove laterally out of the corner toward the net. There, he dished the puck cross-crease where Josh Archibald finished on one knee at 3:17. Oilers’ goaltender Cam Talbot was promptly pulled after the goal and replaced by former Coyote Al Montoya.
2-1 Arizona: After the Oilers’ fanned on an odd-man-rush, they retained possession and found a way to strike through Darnell Nurse. Nurse, who shot from the top of the left face-off circle, beat Antti Raanta cleanly above his glove into the top right corner of the net.
2-2 Tie: The beginning of this play is just a blur because Connor McDavid had the puck, put some voodoo magic on the Coyotes’ defenders and then lightly gave it off to Oscar Klefbom without anyone realizing. With everyone else in the building distracted by McDavid, Klefbom then set up Patrick Maroon for a close-range goal before Arizona could figure out what had happened.
McDavid was ridiculous on the set up for that goal pic.twitter.com/Tm10NGPJT0— Five For Howling (@Five4Howling) January 13, 2018
No scoring in the second as Arizona added 5 shots to their count while Edmonton added 4.
3-2 Oilers: Darnell Nurse scores his second of the night, ripping in a blast past Raanta’s short-side 3:57 in the final period of regulation and giving the Oilers’ their first lead of the night.
4-2 Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seals the deal with an empty net goal.
- Does the Duclair trade light a fire under anybody? The fire seemed lit for the first 10 minutes of the game... and then promptly went back out for the rest of the night. Max Domi was essentially invisible for most of like night, like most of the Coyotes not named Jakob Chychrun or Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
- Is Edmonton’s head already down? Connor McDavid certainly was steering the ship right tonight, he was electric all over the ice and earned himself two assists. With that said, if the Oilers were playing another team besides the Coyotes tonight, they may not have been able to complete the comeback.
- Good goalie, or bad goalie? Cam Talbot was atrocious for the Edmonton Oilers, getting yanked 3:17 minutes into the first period having given up 2 goals off of 3 shots. Al Montoya was perfect as his replacement however, though the Coyotes did not test him nearly enough. Antti Raanta wasn’t awful, but he wasn’t outstanding either, finishing with a mediocre .885 SVS% - it’s not like the Oilers’ were peppering him nor were they finding quality chances.
Players of the Game
Arizona - Oliver Ekman-Larsson - It’s cliche, but it was star leader vs. star leader tonight as OEL did everything within his power except score to get the Yotes over the line - unfortunately he was left without much of a supporting cast.
Edmonton - Connor McDavid - The Oilers need stability, the Oilers need a leader, and tonight McJesus paved the way for a desperately needed Edmonton victory.
Third Star: ARI - Archibald
Second Star: EDM - McDavid
First Star: EDM - Nurse
- For more on the Edmonton Oilers, head on over to Copper and Blue.
- Healthy scratches for the Coyotes tonight were Luke Schenn and Zac Rinaldo (suspended) and the recently claimed Freddie Hamilton.
- Derek Stepan’s point streak ended tonight at four games after failing to record a point against the Oilers.
- Tonight was the final game of for Zac Rinaldo’s six game suspension.
- Wearing #14 in his Arizona debut tonight, Panik played most of the night on the top line with Brendan Perlini and Derek Stepan and finished his night with 2 penalty minutes, 1 SOG, and 2 hits in 16:39 time on ice.
- Hjalmarsson, making his return after 16 games on the sidelines with an injury, was paired alongside Jakob Chychrun and went +1, 1 SOG, 1 hit, and 3 blocks in 19:53 time on ice.
- Attendance: 14,077
The Coyotes fly out and play again immediately tomorrow night in San Jose against the Sharks. Puck drop is at 8:30pm MT and can be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona or tuned into on ESPN 620 AM.