GLENDALE – Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his 22nd and 23rd goals of the season on Saturday night as the Coyotes defeated the San Jose Sharks, 5-3, at Gila River Arena.
The second goal lifted Ekman-Larsson into a first-place tie with Phil Housley for goals scored in a season by a defenseman in Coyotes/Jets history. Housley scored 23 goals for Winnipeg in 1990-91 and again in 1991-92. Ekman-Larsson was born on July 11, 1991.
Ekman-Larsson has three games left to move into sole possession of the franchise record. The Coyotes play at Calgary and Vancouver next week before ending the season at home vs. Anaheim on April 11.
"It's fun to tie a record," Ekman-Larsson said. "To be honest, I haven't really thought about it. You guys have been talking about it a couple weeks. I just try to play my best every night."
Ekman-Larsson leads all NHL defensemen with 23 goals and also leads all NHL defensemen with 10 power-play goals.
"That's a great accomplishment for him," Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "He's a top player. We just have to continue to find top players to go around him. He committed to this organization and like a lot of people, he's frustrated with the way the season has gone. He wants to put the work in to make sure this doesn't happen again."
|Photo by Norm Hall. |
Ekman-Larsson also assisted on Shane Doan’s goal for a three-point night vs. the Sharks. He leads the team with 43 points.
"I’ve been saying for a while that he’s a special player," captain Shane Doan said. "I don’t really think there’s too many people in the league I would trade him for. He’s our best offensive player and our best defensive player. He’s special and it’s disappointing he doesn’t get respect nationally that I think he deserves, but what he’s doing this year obviously speaks for itself."
Goalie Mike Smith agreed.
"What took him so long?" Smith quipped. "It's mind-boggling. The kid's just going to get better. It's scary how good he's going to get, and the confidence he's going to gain from a season like this is huge for this team."
Ekman-Larsson, 23, has been the bright spot in an otherwise forgettable season for the Coyotes.
"Don't expect me to score 23 goals every year," Ekman-Larsson said. "That's not going to happen. I'm just happy to score some goals and I'm just going to try to keep shooting; see if I can find a couple more here."