Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored the deciding goal in the shootout to give the Edmonton Oilers a 4-3 victory against the Arizona Coyotes at Rexall Place on Saturday.
This was a huge victory for the Oilers against a Pacific Division rival, starting the new year on the right foot and ending a four-game losing skid in the process. The Coyotes came into tonight’s match-up with a 16-0-4 record in the past 20 meetings between these two clubs, but Edmonton was able to come away with two points.
Jordan Eberle scored two goals and recorded his 300th NHL point in Saturday’s contest. Taylor Hall also netted his first goal in seven games.
Coyotes forward Steve Downie gave Arizona the lead at 6:56 of the first period when he was able to find space in front of the net behind defenseman Darnell Nurse; wide open, Downie tapped a centering pass from Jordan Martinook past Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.
Hall converted a centering pass from Leon Draisaitl at 7:55 to tie the game at 1-1. Draisaitl chased down the puck in the corner and sent a backhand pass into the slot to Hall, who fired it past Coyotes goaltender Louis Domingue.
Eberle then scored on the power play at 11:39 of the first. This was the Oilers’ first power-play goal since the December 15 game against the New York Rangers.
But the Oilers were unable to hold on to the lead. Rookie defenseman Darnell Nurse was victimized once again when Coyotes forward Brad Richardson scored to tie the game at 2-2. Nurse went to block the shot, but Richardson recovered the puck from underneath Nurse and pushed it past Talbot.
The Coyotes scored the next marker as well. Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, Arizona’s superstar youngsters, hooked up on a 2-on-1 as Duclair converted a pass from Domi, giving the Coyotes the 3-2 lead early in the final frame. With the momentum shifting back to Arizona, it felt like the game was slipping out of reach. I’m not going to lie, I thought this game was over.
But Eberle had other ideas.
With 6 minutes to go in regulation, Eberle roofed a beautiful backhand shot past Domingue to tie the game at 3-3.
As an Oilers fan, I understand that this may be biased, but I think that Jordan Eberle has the best hands in the NHL in tight around the net.
Eberle’s third-period tally forced overtime. Though the high skill level of the Oilers roster is always on display, the new 3-on-3 overtime format truly lets the talent shine through. Today, the Oilers got the job done with a traditional shootout, but the team had several glorious chances in overtime. Since neither team was able to strike in OT, the game went to a shootout.
Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker converted on his forehand/backhand shootout move, but Max Domi missed the net in his first career shootout attempt. Eberle missed the net in similar fashion. Nugent-Hopkins and Matt Hendricks scored for the Oilers, and Talbot stopped Arizona forward Antoine Vermette to seal the deal.
Featured Image Credit: Andy Devlin-Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club