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GAME STORY: Oilers 3, Coyotes 1

Jujhar Khaira scored his first NHL goal and Edmonton downed the Arizona Coyotes 3-1

by Chris Wescott @TheChrisWescott / EdmontonOilers.com Head Writer

Video: OILERS TODAY | Oilers vs. Coyotes Post-Game

EDMONTON, AB - Jujhar Khaira potted his first NHL goal, while Leon Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also lit the lamp in Edmonton's 3-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Place.

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"It's real tight in the standings," said Draisaitl, who tallied his 17th goal of the season. "Every team needs points and so do we. We're very happy with the two points tonight."

Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring at 3:34 of the first frame. Jordan Eberle crossed the blueline and lightly passed the puck up to the skating centre. Nugent-Hopkins sniped it far side for his ninth of the season. Adam Larsson recorded the second assist in his return to action after missing one game.

Three minutes into the second, Andrej Sekera was gifted with a wide-open look on net. The Oilers defenceman snapped a shot on goal, but Mike Smith made the save.

Smith was largely the reason Arizona had any chance for a win. The netminder made 24 saves, including some sure to make the highlight reel.

One of those saves came on Nugent-Hopkins. The Oilers centre almost had his second of the night, sliding in on his own and firing a point-blank shot on Smith. The goalie shut the door.

Later, Eberle nearly ended his goal drought with a wicked backhanded spin-o-rama, but his shot ricocheted off the post. Eberle took a goaltender interference penalty on the chance as he slid into Smith.

The snake-bitten Eberle then had a breakaway opportunity robbed by Smith with 11:37 left in the middle frame, searching for his first goal since December 6.

"Of course you get frustrated," said Eberle. "I think you see my reaction every time I get a chance, it's like I'm hitting posts or he's making amazing saves. But the team… we haven't needed my offence. That's been important. The biggest thing is you're getting chances, and it's going to go."

Khaira made it 2-0 for the Oil by lifting a nifty feed from Mark Letestu past Smith. The goal was Khaira's first in the NHL, after he previously had two assists in 16 games heading into the night.

"It's a relief, for sure," said Khaira. "You always think about it and it's in the back of your mind always. Now I just want to build off it."

Draisaitl scored a beautiful goal to give Edmonton a 3-0 advantage at 13:37 of the second period. Connor McDavid set up the trailing winger, and the big German forward pulled the puck away from a defender and sniped a nice shot. With the goal and the assist, both Draisaitl and McDavid moved to 99 career points together.

Draisaitl and McDavid, partnered with Patrick Maroon, make for a dangerous trio of forwards who have paced the Oilers offensive attack as of late. Draisaitl, a natural centre, plays the wing in that combination and that hasn't slowed him down one bit.

"I'm very comfortable," said Draisaitl. "Playing with Connor makes it a little easier than normal maybe, but I think we just seem to click and complement each other well."

Draisaitl is second on the Oilers in scoring with 39 points (17-22-39), while McDavid nudged ahead of Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead with his 51st point.

The Coyotes scored at 17:56 of the middle frame as Radim Vrbata was left all alone in front of Talbot and he made no mistake, burying his 10th goal of the season. That would be the lone tally for the desert dogs, as Talbot finished the game with 19 saves.

"We could have scored a few more goals, but so could they," said Draisaitl. "They're not an easy team to play against. They're very structured and stick to their details. Those games are sometimes not that fun to play in, so we're very happy with the two points."

The win for Edmonton marked the first time they have beaten the Coyotes in regulation at home since 2009. The Oilers improved to 24-15-7, and host the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night.

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