OEL's late OT goal snaps Coyotes' 9-game home losing streak

BY foxsports • December 17, 2014

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Oliver Ekman-Larsson knew the clock was running down in overtime.

"I think I took a look when there were 15 seconds left," the Coyotes defenseman said. "We turned the puck over a couple times so I was out there for a minute and a half. I was kind of tired but when I saw our guys get the puck I just said 'alright, let's try one more time.'"

With three-tenths of a second left Tuesday night, Ekman-Larsson reprised a familiar scene this season, whipping a puck past goalie Ben Scrivens off a sweet feed from Sam Gagner to lift the Coyotes to a 2-1 overtime victory over Edmonton.

Just like that, Ekman-Larsson had his third OT game-winner of the season, the Coyotes snapped a nine-game home losing streak and they beat the Oilers for the ninth straight time and fourth straight this season (they have earned points in 17 straight meetings with the Oilers).

Ekman-Larsson -- who had grandparents, a cousin and an aunt in attendance at Gila River Arena -- also had OT game-winners against Los Angeles and Florida earlier this season. 

"He's come up with some timely goals," coach Dave Tippett said. "Today, it was very timely. We'll take it. We knew we were going to have to work hard to get through (the losing streak)."

On Monday, the Oilers fired second-year coach Dallas Eakins and GM Craig MacTavish took the reins, likely thinking that this was a good time to make the switch before the Oilers played the struggling Coyotes. But little has gone according to plan for MacTavish, who spent the game on the bench with interim coach Todd Nelson, but sent Nelson to address the media after the loss.

"It was nice having a guy with that much experience behind the bench with me," Nelson said in a statement that must have drawn eye-rolls from the Edmonton media. "It was a great experience for me."

Time will tell if he still feels that way after a season of coaching the NHL's resident train wreck, but this was a badly needed win for the Coyotes, who entered the game 12 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

"It would be easy to look up at that deficit and get discouraged," captain Shane Doan said. "But you can't do that. You can't worry about that big picture right now. You can't dig out all at once. You have to start with a win like we did tonight and then go out and get another one."

That was a good approach for the ex-Oiler, Gagner, who was benched in the previous game against Minnesota, and returned to the lineup to set up the game-winner.

"I felt like my game was good," he said. "I was creating a lot. That is something I want to be consistent with."

Gagner played on an effective line with center Martin Hanzal and wing Tobias Rieder -- one that Tippett will likely go back to for another game.

Tippett hasn't decided if he will go back to goalie Devan Dubnyk, who made 31 saves against his former team to improve to 6-2-2. Dubnyk has more points (14) in 10 starts than starter Mike Smith (12 points) has in 21 starts.

Tippett said Smith will spend the entire week working with goalie coach Sean Burke and he will evaluate the situation on Friday before the team leaves for a three-game trip through Los Angeles, Vancouver and Edmonton.

"When you're in a situation like we are, everybody's got to keep working at it," Tippett said. "Smitty's in that boat."

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