GLENDALE, Ariz. — An early deficit, even by a goal, would have been difficult for the Arizona Coyotes to overcome in the past.
With the group of young scorers they have this season, deficits are no problem, especially when goalie Mike Smith is on his game.
Max Domi had a goal and an assist, Smith stopped 27 shots and the Coyotes raced past the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 after a slow start Thursday night.
“It hasn’t always been easy coming back from deficits the past few years, so it’s nice to see that we can do it,” Smith said. “It shows a lot about our group.”
Edmonton played the night before, but had the early jump on Arizona, scoring in the opening 3 minutes.
The Coyotes didn’t stop once they got rolling and extended their point streak against the Oilers to 19 straight games (16-0-3), including six consecutive victories.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson got Arizona’s offence started with a goal in the first period and Shane Doan scored in the second. Stefan Elliott scored his first goal since joining the Coyotes and Domi put it away with his eighth of the season in the third.
Smith was sharp following a strong performance against Los Angeles on Tuesday night, overcoming Taylor Hall’s early goal with some spectacular saves. He has stopped 60 shots in two games after allowing 10 goals over the previous two.
A modest three-game winning streak moves the Coyotes (9-6-1) into a tie with Vancouver atop the Pacific Division, a rarity for this franchise in November. It’s also not a bad way to get ready for a four-game road trip that will span eight days.
“We’re really excited and happy with how we’re playing,” said Domi, who leads NHL rookies in goals and is second with 15 points. “Obviously, slow starts is something that has been a problem, but it makes it that much sweeter.”
Edmonton had struggled — six losses in eight games — before getting a lift Wednesday night with a 4-3 overtime victory at Anaheim.
Instead of being tired from playing the night before, the Oilers seemed energized by the road victory, jumping on the Coyotes at the start.
Not surprisingly, Leon Draisaitl got them going.
The German centre has been an offensive force since being called up from Bakersfield of the AHL, notching 10 points — four goals — in six games. He set up Edmonton’s first goal, slipping a slick pass on a give-and-go to Hall, who flipped a backhander past Smith for his seventh of the season.
After that, the Oilers went flat.
They had no answer when Arizona picked up the pressure, and their power play was disjointed most of the night, finishing 0 for 4.
“I didn’t think we were sharp. I didn’t think we had the polish in our game that we’ve seen even when we didn’t have success in the past,” Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. “I know it’s back-to-back, but we can’t have that excuse.”
The Coyotes gathered themselves after the slow start, and Ekman-Larsson scored late in the first period on a shot Anders Nilsson had trouble seeing through Brad Richardson’s screen.
Doan scored in the second period on a power play, one-timing a pass out front from Domi after some nifty stickhandling by the rookie.
Elliott made it 3-1 late in the period, punching in a rebound after Nilsson couldn’t control a shot by John Scott.
Smith was sharp in the second period, making a couple of tough saves on a power play early and stopping Andrew Miller on two shots from point-blank range late.
Smith, who had 33 saves against the Kings, also had a tough glove save on Hall in the third, but wasn’t tested much the rest of the period.
Domi scored when he swiped a loose puck in front of Nilsson just ahead of Richardson next to him to finish off the Oilers.
“We didn’t give up many good chances, but I’ve got to come up with those extra saves to give us a chance,” said Nilsson, who allowed four goals on 21 shots.