GLENDALE – Defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who leads the Coyotes with 45 points, suffered a lower-body injury on Saturday night during the team’s 6-4 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Gila River Arena.
After the game, Head Coach Dave Tippett said the injury is not serious, and that Ekman-Larsson is considered “day-to-day.” He will accompany the team when it leaves on a nine-day, five-game road trip on Sunday morning.
The Coyotes begin the trip with a game at the Washington Capitals on Monday night.
“He wanted to come back (into the game) and the more we looked at it we decided to keep him off today,” Tippett said. “I’m not ruling him out for Monday yet.”
While defending, Ekman-Larsson got tangled with St. Louis forward Vladimir Tarasenko in Arizona’s zone and both players fell to the ice at 0:42 of the first period. Ekman-Larsson was called for tripping on the play and skated directly off the ice and into the team’s dressing room. Center Kyle Chipchura served Ekman-Larsson’s penalty in the box.
Ekman-Larsson returned for one shift later in the first period but went back to the dressing room for the rest of the game.
“It’s tough,” captain Shane Doan said of losing Ekman-Larsson so early in the game. “He’s our best player and he does so much for us in every situation.”
Ekman-Larsson, whose 45 points are a career-high for one season, has played all 58 games this season and he played all 82 games last season. He missed two games in 2013-14 because of an upper-body injury suffered vs. Columbus on Jan. 2. The Coyotes went 1-1-0 in those two games without him.
• Tippett replaced starting goalie Louis Domingue with newly recalled backup goalie Niklas Treutle at 10:06 of the first period after Domingue allowed a fourth goal on 10 shots. Treutle, playing his first NHL game, stopped all four shots he faced over the rest of the first period.
Tippett then re-inserted Domingue into the game at the start of the second period. He finished with 30 saves.
“I told Louis Domingue to get back in there and try to stabilize the game,” Tippett said. “Louis jumped back in, and I've got to give him credit. He played well.”
As for Treutle, he said making his NHL debut was a dream come true.
“Playing in the NHL is what you dream of as a kid and it was a good feeling to be in there,” Treutle said. “It was fun. I wasn’t really nervous. I think excited is the right word.”
He added, “Hockey is a fast game and everything happens so quick, that’s why you always have to be ready. I was today, but unfortunately I couldn’t help (the team win).”
• The Coyotes recalled Treutle from the American Hockey League on Feb. 16 after Anders Lindback suffered a season-ending lower-body injury the night before. Lindback underwent successful surgery on an injured Achilles’ tendon on Friday, the team announced.
• Captain Shane Doan scored the game’s first goal at 0:23 of the first period. The franchise record for fastest goal to start a game was set by Doug Smail on Nov. 11, 1981 when he scored just 0:05 into a Winnipeg Jets game played at Minnesota.
• Defenseman Kevin Connauton scored Arizona’s second goal at 9:21 of the second period. It was his third goal of the season and his second goal in the past three games. He also chipped in two assists to record the first three-point game of his NHL career. With Ekman-Larsson out for most of the game, Connauation logged a career-high 31:11.
“He hung in there and he gave us everything he’s got,” Tippett said. “We’ve got some other guys that can take a lesson from that.”
Connauton said playing with just five defensemen for most of the game was challenging.
“Losing (Ekman-Larsson) is a big deal,” Connauton said. “He’s a horse back there. He’s one of the top guys on this team. We definitely missed him, but we battled hard. We did some good things and some bad things, unfortunately. We committed some turnovers and they capitalized.”
• Defenseman Klas Dahlbeck also set a career-high for ice time with 23:49.
• Rookie Max Domi scored Arizona’s third goal at 0:50 of the third period to extend his point streak to three games. He added a second goal with 33.2 seconds left in the game. His first goal was his 40th point of the season, and with that point he moved into sole possession of second place for most points in a season by a rookie in Coyotes history. Peter Mueller is first on that list with 54 points in 2007-08. The franchise record for points by a rookie, of course, is 132 set by Teemu Selanne in 1992-93 for Winnipeg. That is also an NHL record.
• With the loss, the Coyotes extended their home losing streak vs. St. Louis to seven games. They last beat the Blues in Glendale on March 22, 2011.