GLENDALE – Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his 20th goal of the season on Sunday night in eye-popping fashion.
Trailing 1-0 in the first period, Ekman-Larsson skated the puck end-to-end, through and around multiple defenders, and beat Canucks goalie Jacob Marsktrom on his third shot of the sequence after Marsktrom blocked his first two attempts.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
"I had good speed through the neutral zone and I just shot it on net and I got two (more) chances to put it in so, yeah, it was a lucky goal," Ekman-Larsson said.
Ekman-Larsson is being too modest; his goal was not "lucky" but rather an electrifying display of All-Star skating, awareness, stick-handling and shooting, and it impressed Head Coach Dave Tippett and Ekman-Larsson's teammates.
"Great players do real great things and that was an example of it," Tippett said.
Goalie Mike Smith agreed.
"Thank God we have him still," Smith said. "He’s a special player, obviously, everyone knows that now. He’s really making a name for himself in this league. We are very fortunate to have him on our team and he’s a great kid, too... He’s leading our team in goals, that says a lot about how important he is to our team and how unbelievable he is as a player."
Ekman-Larsson is the only franchise defenseman to reach 20 goals in a season since the team moved to Arizona in 1996 and is the first since Phil Housley and Fredrik Olausson did so in 1991-92 when the team was based in Winnipeg. Housley holds the franchise record for goals in a season by a defenseman with 23; he did it twice (in 1990-91 and 1991-92).
Ekman-Larsson entered the season with 31 goals in 257 NHL games and his season-high for goals in a season was 15 in 80 games last season. This season he has netted 20 goals in 73 games with nine games to go.
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
With 20 markers, Ekman-Larsson is leading NHL defensemen in goal scoring. Ottawa's Erik Karlsson, a friend of Ekman-Larsson, has scored 19.
A group of fans from Ekman-Larsson's hometown in Sweden who made the trip to Arizona to watch him play witnessed him scoring his 20th goal. Most of those fans were wearing hockey sweaters that were half-Coyotes (red) and half-Team Sweden (gold) with Ekman-Larsson's name on the back.
"It's fun to have them here," Ekman-Larsson said, "and it's great to get some support from back home. They've been doing that for four years now. It's fun to see them here."
MOST GOALS IN A SEASON BY COYOTES/JETS DEFENSEMAN
23 – Phil Housley (WPG) in 1990-91 & 1991-92
22 – Dave Ellett (WPG) in 1988-89
20 – Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI) in 2014-15
20 – Fredrik Olausson (WPG) in 1991-92
19 – Dave Babych (WPG) in 1981-82