GLENDALE -- Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson left Thursday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets early in the first period because of an upper-body injury and did not return to the game.
Ekman-Larsson was checked hard into the boards from behind by Columbus forward Derek MacKenzie. Ekman-Larsson remained on the ice for a few moments after the hit and then gingerly skated to the bench. He then went straight to the dressing room and did not return.
After the game, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said Ekman-Larsson's injury did not appear to be too serious and that Ekman-Larsson was held out of the game as a precaution.
"He looked alright (after the game)," Tippett said. "We'll call him day-to-day."
MacKenzie was not penalized for the boarding-like hit.
Moments after the hit, Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle engaged MacKenzie in a fight.
"I'm not going to really beat anybody up," said Yandle, who played a season-high 30:37. "I (just) thought I'd stick up for him. He'd do the same for me."
Ekman-Larsson played the first 39 games of this season, all 48 games last season and all 82 in 2011-12. The young Swede, who is expected to represent Sweden in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, has four goals and 22 points this season.
Yandle was hoping to hear his name called on New Year’s Day when Team USA announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics on national television after The Winter Classic.
It didn’t happen.
“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Yandle said Thursday. “I was excited. I thought I gave myself a good shot to make the team. Obviously, I’m disappointed but … I’ve just got to keep working hard, keep getting better. It’s not the first time I’ve been cut from a team, probably won’t be the last. For me, I’ve just got to use it as motivation.”
Yandle ranks third among NHL defensemen from the United States with 27 points.
“Guys are genuinely disappointed for him,” Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “He’s a pro. We talked last night. He (said), ‘I’ll just have more energy for our team and a strong playoff run.’ His head’s in the right place.”
Team USA has eight defensemen on its roster.
“I was told I was down to the last guy or two,” Yandle said. “That’s obviously a huge accomplishment, too, just to be in the top 10 guys for your country to be noticed.”
The Winter Olympics begin Feb. 7.
“From what I was told, I still have to be ready if there were injuries,” Yandle said. “But obviously you’d never hope for anybody to get hurt. You wish those guys, the guys that got selected, good health and to be there and playing in Sochi. Obviously, I’ll try to be ready. We have 19 games to go until the break and we’ve got to focus on winning those games, and that’s my main focus.”
Coyotes goaltending prospect Marek Langhamer turned heads playing for Czech Republic at the 2014 World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden.
Langhamer, whom the Coyotes selected with the 184th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, posted a 2.95 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in four games. He stopped 116 of 128 shots.
Langhamer keyed Czech Republic’s 5-4 shootout win over Canada on Dec. 28. He made 25 saves and then two more in the shootout.
"Marek had a very good tournament," said Coyotes Assistant General Manager Brad Treliving, who is in Sweden for the tournament. “He was outstanding in the Czech victory over Canada and gave his team a chance to win in each game. We’re very pleased. This experience on this stage will only further enhance his development.”
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