A nine-game losing streak (one of which was a SO loss) at home for the Arizona Coyotes was a tough pill to swallow. Loosing consecutive games in front of your home crowd is never something that you look to do, and so going into their last home game until December 27th, the need to win was dire.
Dueling against the Edmonton Oilers, who fired their head coach on Monday morning, was going to be interesting no matter what. Their ex-coach Dallas Eakins was replaced by the team’s GM Craig MacTavish. The Oilers were obviously eager to show off a big win for their new coach.
The Coyotes have won their last 9 games against the Oilers, including 5 so far this season. Next Tuesday, December 23rd, the Coyotes face off against them again in Edmonton for their last romp of the season.
Devan Dubnyk got the nod for goal against his old team for the second home game in a row. Despite an early goal by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Dubnyk was as solid as he has been all season. He made the crucial saves (31 overall) to keep the team in the game, and ultimately win it in overtime. Could Dubnyk be proving that he is their #1 starter? Coach Dave Tippett has previously implied that if someone wants to “take the ball” and run with it, and it seems to be that Dubnyk is doing just that.
The Coyotes offense was out-shooting the Oilers, and it was a step in the right direction. They set a new franchise record for shots in a period with 27 shots in the second frame. By the end of the game, the shots were 44-32, ‘Yotes with the lead.
Brandon McMillan got the credit for the Coyotes only goal in regulation. This was his first of the season.
The real star of the game, and not undeservingly, the first star of the game, was Oliver Ekman-Larsson. His shining moment came in the last seconds of overtime for the third time this season. He obviously seems comfortable in the spotlight and he always seems to bring the drama when the team is in need. His superstar reputation does not go unnoticed, and even in his low streaks, he proves that he’s the real deal. Larsson notched a goal with .3 seconds left in overtime after an on-ice shift of around 1 minute and 30 seconds. That right there is not by coincidence.
“Yeah no, winning is fun, right? I almost forgot how it felt. But it was a great feeling today. Everybody did a great job and everybody played hard.”-Larsson on the game-winner
Coach Tippett proved his point to the team that “if [they’re] not willing to play to [their] capabilities, then we’ll find somebody else to try.” Sam Gagner was one of those players who was a healthy scratch last game after not playing to Tippett’s standards, but he was back with a vengeance against the Oilers. He had a wonderful game, creating chances and even setting up some key plays. He, in fact, was the one to feed the puck to Larsson for the game-winner.
The team is finally contributing, and the past several games have been a strong effort, despite them being losses. Now that the Coyotes will be traveling after a long stint at home, will they be able to keep consistent on the road? They play the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, and after a rough loss to them at home several weeks back, will they bring the momentum?