GLENDALE – Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored a goal on Thursday night vs. Montreal and it was significant on multiple levels.
First and foremost, Ekman-Larsson’s goal, which he netted with just nine seconds left in the first period, proved to be the game-winning goal in Phoenix’s 5-2 victory over the Canadiens.
On a personal level, the goal was Ekman-Larsson’s 33rd point of the season – a new career-high for the 22-year-old Swede - and it was the 100th point of his NHL career.
Ekman-Larsson credited teammate Mike Ribeiro for the goal.
“I saw ‘Ribs’ looking at me, so I just kept going and he made a sick pass and I shot it and it went in,” he said.
Of note, Ekman-Larsson’s 100th NHL point came against Montreal, the city in which the Coyotes selected him sixth overall in the 2009 NHL Draft.
Also worth noting, Ekman-Larsson notched the milestone point with his parents and more than 30 friends of his family from Sweden in attendance at Jobing.com Arena. The friends, who were given a tour of the arena before Thursday’s game, showed their support of Ekman-Larsson at the past three home games by wearing half Swedish/half Coyotes sweaters with Ekman-Larsson’s name on the back. Ekman-Larsson signed all 30-plus sweaters for his supporters and visited with them at times during their weeklong stay in Scottsdale.
Forward Martin Erat played 16:30 in his debut with the Coyotes on Thursday night. He finished plus-2, with four hits and 1 shot on goal.
Erat played on a line with fellow Czech winger Radim Vrbata and center Kyle Chipchura, and the Coyotes scored a goal on that line’s first shift. With Erat in front of the net, Vrbata tipped a shot from David Schlemko past Montreal goalie Peter Budaj at 2:08 of the first period.
Vrbata scored a second goal in the third period.
“It was great,” Erat said about playing with Vrbata and Chipchura. “They hold on to the pucks, and they do a lot of work in the zone. That’s where I’m most effective -- when we play in the offensive zone.”
Vrbata, who has played with Erat for Czech Republic in international events, liked the chemistry, too.
“Hopefully we’ll get even better as we practice more together and skate together and play more games together,” Vrbata said. “Hopefully this is just the start.”
Tippett liked what he saw from Erat on Thursday night.
"He looks like a good NHL player," Tippett said. "It's just his first game but first impressions were positive. … It’s not as if this is all new to him. He knows how to play the game. It’s just a matter of him getting in and getting comfortable.”
Erat is wearing sweater No. 10. To clarify, the Coyotes honored Winnipeg Jets icon Dale Hawerchuk by putting his name and number into the franchise’s Ring of Honor in 2007. The No. 10, however, has not been retired. The franchise, of course, moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix in 1996.
Hanzal has missed the past two games because of a lower-body injury.
Schlemko left Thursday’s game after blocking a shot by Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban during a penalty kill in the second period and did not return to the game.
“It’s a good thing he had the ankle guards on, which I think saved him a little bit,” Tippett said.
Nevertheless, the Coyotes recalled defenseman Brandon Gormley from the American Hockey League on Friday, just in case Schlemko isn't able to play on this trip.
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