GLENDALE, Ariz. — He’ll never acknowledge it and he’ll frown if he reads this, but there’s no getting around it: Dave Tippett owns the Edmonton Oilers.
Like a mob boss owns a compulsive, feckless gambler.
After spotting the opposition a lead for the fourth time in its last four games, the Arizona Coyotes roared back with four unanswered goals to defeat the Oilers for the sixth straight time with a 4-1 decision on Thursday at Gila River Arena. It was Arizona’s third straight come-from-behind victory.
With the win, the Coyotes stretched their points streak against the Oilers to 19 games, their longest streak against the same opponent in franchise history. Since Tippett became the coach in 2009-10, the Coyotes are 21-2-3 against Edmonton.
“I don’t know what it is,” Tippett said while trying to dismiss the idea. “Tonight, I thought we had an advantage because they were (playing) back-to-back (games).”
You can partially rationalize Arizona’s lopsided advantage over its Pacific Division rival by reasoning that the Coyotes were a Western Conference playoff team in Tippett’s first three seasons while the Oilers were, well, the Oilers.
The Coyotes have missed the postseason the last three years, however. In that same span, Tippett’s team is 11-0-3 against Edmonton and the wins have come in every imaginable fashion, whether it was blowouts, rallies or overtime wins like Keith Yandle’s goal in the closing seconds on New Year’s Eve two seasons ago.
The Coyotes haven’t lost to Edmonton since Jan. 25, 2011.
“I didn’t realize it had been that long,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “I’m glad I didn’t know that before the game.”
We’re not sure it would have mattered.
The Coyotes came out flat to start the game (what’s new?) and the Oilers took a 1-0 lead just 3:03 into the game on a pretty give-and-go between Leon Draisaitl and Taylor Hall.
Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson evened the game when his shot from the far boards beat goalie Anders Nilsson through a Brad Richardson screen at 16:49 of the first period. It was Ekman-Larsson’s first goal since opening night against the Kings. From there the Coyotes just got progressively better.
Doan made it 2-1 lead off a nifty feed from Max Domi to give the Coyotes the lead for good at 13:47 of the second period. It was Doan’s 116th career power play goal, moving him within six of Dale Hawerchuk for the franchise record. It was also Arizona’s third power-play goal in its last four games after managing just five through the first 12.
Defenseman Stefan Elliott widened the lead when he knocked in a rebound of left winger John Scott’s shot from the top of the circle at 17:29 of the second period. It was Elliott’s first goal and point as a Coyote, and it was Scott’s first point as a Coyote in just his fourth game in the uniform.
“We didn’t stop playing, we didn’t stop forechecking and we took care of the puck really well,” said goalie Mike Smith, who made 27 saves in his second straight strong outing. “We got the third one and we got the fourth one. That just puts teams away; it doesn’t let teams get back in games.”
Domi added a late goal to take over the rookie goal scoring lead with eight and move within one point (15) of Chicago’s Artemi Panarin for the rookie points lead.
The Coyotes are now an impressive 5-1 against Pacific Division teams and 6-2 against the Western Conference.
“You’ve got to put an emphasis on your division because that’s one of the ways you get into the playoffs,” Tippett said. “Do you play any different? No, you don’t play any different, but you certainly recognize it’s an opponent that you can have a bearing on the standings against.”
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