GLENDALE, Ariz. — The customized title belt the Arizona Coyotes pass around for a top performance in a victory was already in Antti Raanta’s possession after a win two days earlier against Montreal.
Raanta did even more to earn the belt Saturday, though he handed it off to defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Raanta made 39 saves for his first shutout of the season and the Coyotes won their fourth straight, scoring on their first shot in a 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Raanta had his ninth career shutout, helping the Coyotes earn points for the fifth time in six games.
“You never get the shutouts just by yourself, you need a good team in front of you,” Raanta said. “It shows you how much better we are right now … I went with ‘Hammer’ because Hammer’s been blocking more shots than I have sometimes saved.”
Cam Talbot made 31 saves for Edmonton. The Oilers have lost six in a row.
Talbot was pulled with under 90 seconds to play, but Edmonton could not send the game to overtime. The Oilers
The Coyotes scored on their first attempt of the game. Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot caromed off teammate Christian Dvorak’s body and past Talbot at 3:26 of the first period.
“Somehow found its way in,” Dvorak said. “Sometimes you get lucky if you go to the net.”
The Oilers’ best chance came midway through the third. Patrick Maroon’s goal was overturned on a Coyotes’ challenge for goaltender interference. Maroon tipped in Oscar Klefbom’s shot, but replays appeared to show Maroon didn’t allow Raanta full movement with his stick and blocker to be able to stop the puck.
“The goalie is way out of his crease and I’m getting pushed into him. So I mean, it can go either way,” Maroon said. “I feel like it has been going that way all year.”
Talbot expressed his displeasure at the ruling and that Arizona’s goal was not called back for the same infraction.
“It’s extremely frustrating to have what seems like every one of these calls go against us. I just don’t understand it. … There’s just no consistency and I’m (expletive) sick of it.” he said.
Dvorak became the fourth player in Coyotes history to begin his career with consecutive 10-or more-goal seasons. Ekman-Larsson has four points in his last two games and 25 in 31 career games against Edmonton, the most against any opponent.
Talbot made several key saves in the period, two on a late Arizona power play, to keep the Coyotes from extending their lead.
Raanta stopped Ryan Strome’s shot with 14:33 left in the third period, then turned away Zack Kassian’s long attempt 23 seconds later. He stayed strong in goal even against an extra attacker in the closing seconds.
“Lots of blocking shots,” Raanta said of the game’s last few moments. “Everybody who was on the ice, they were putting their bodies on the line.”
The Coyotes held Oilers star Connor McDavid, among the NHL leaders in points with 66, to two shots on goal.
“That’s a tough task to shut that guy down. He’s a world-class talent,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said.
NOTES: Oilers backup goalie Al Montoya was scratched after suffering an upper-body injury in Friday’s practice, and will be evaluated again on Sunday. The team recalled G Laurent Brossoit from Bakersfield of the AHL on an emergency basis and assigned D Keegan Lowe to Bakersfield. … D Adam Larsson returned to the Oilers after missing the past eight games following the death of his father. He served four penalty minutes. … Coyotes F Richard Panik returned to action after missing the past two games as a healthy scratch. C Zac Rinaldo was scratched for Arizona. … Ekman-Larsson has 21 assists on the season, and has recorded 20 or more in six consecutive seasons. … Texas Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels, in town for spring training, attended the game. … The Coyotes are 28-6-5 in their last 39 games against the Oilers.