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Lucic, Klefbom have extra reasons to feel good after Oilers win

Forward scored first since Dec. 23, defenseman ended 34-game drought with overtime goal vs. Coyotes

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / Staff Writer

EDMONTON -- Two players ending long scoring droughts made the biggest difference for the Edmonton Oilers in a 4-3 overtime victory against the Arizona Coyotes on Monday.

Forward Milan Lucic had his first goal in 30 games, and defenseman Oscar Klefbom scored 50 seconds into overtime, his first goal in 34 games.

"I think it was pretty evident how frustrated I was, slammed doors a bunch of times, broke sticks and you name it," Lucic said. He last scored during a 4-1 win against the Montreal Canadiens on Dec. 23. "So it was a tough stretch, that's for sure, especially with the amount of chances that I had to score some goals.

Video: ARI@EDM: Lucic blasts huge slapper past Kuemper

"There were times they could have been key goals but I hit a post or the goalie makes a big save or I miss the net. It was a really rough time to go through, and stretches like that that you come out of sometimes make you better. You hope that that happens moving forward."

The last time Klefbom scored was in a 6-2 win against the Canadiens on Dec. 9.

"It's crazy, but that's how it is," Klefbom said. "I felt so good for Milan when I saw the puck go in. It's a lot of frustration, especially for Milan. I don't know how many times he hit the post. He's been so close. I was relieved when he scored. Maybe that helped me too."

Klefbom is having a down year offensively. He has 18 points (four goals, 14 points) in 62 games this season, and for much of the first half of the season he played through a shoulder injury.

Healthy and able to use his big shot from the point last season, he had 38 points (12 goals, 26 points) in 82 games.

The scoring slump, he said, was eating at him, even more after he shot wide from six feet in front of the Arizona goal in the first period.

"I missed the first wide open net so I had to redeem myself somehow," he said. "Right now it feels good, and it feels good for me to score the overtime goal, but we have to find way to close the game earlier."

Video: ARI@EDM: McDavid feeds Klefbom for overtime winner

The Oilers led 3-1 after two periods Monday.

Lucic scored at 13:21 of the first period to put Edmonton ahead 2-1, a slap shot from the left wing that went just inside the far post.

He was nearing exasperation with the slump, he said.

"I've tried just about everything," he said. "Trying new stuff, going back to trying old stuff. I've watched clips of other guys, plus clips of yourself, all that type of stuff. I've been in a stretch of hitting posts, that type of stuff. I can come up with a million excuses … but at the end of the day it's about results and I have to find a way to try and get some."

The relief Monday was obvious for Lucic, who also is scoring at a lower rate than last season.

He has 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 66 games after he had 50 points (23 goals, 27 assists) in 82 games last season.

He said it may be overlooked since the Oilers are 17 points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Western Conference, but making the rest of the season positive and productive matters.

"I know a lot of people might not think this, but there is a carryover from season to season," Lucic said. "Sometimes you can get things going in the right way to end off a year. It gives you a better mindset in the summertime and that's what we're trying to accomplish here as individuals and as a team."

A little humor even found its way into the occasion Monday.

When Lucic returned to the bench after his goal, coach Todd McLellan leaned over and said something that caused both men to smile.

"He made a joke about grabbing the puck after, first goal in 2018, so I appreciate a good laugh like that once in a while, that's for sure," Lucic said.

Said McLellan: "He was smiling, he was relieved, and I'm sure in his career he hasn't had to deal with that a lot so I just asked him if he was going to keep the puck. He smiled and said, 'Maybe I should.'

"We're hard on the players a lot, but when they do get that relief we should be participating with them and letting them know we're behind them as well."

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