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Ekman-Larsson Reaches 20-Goal Mark with End-to-End Beauty

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes


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


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