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Darnell Nurse scores twice, Oilers beat Coyotes 4-2
Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (25) celebrates with teammates after scoring his goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the second period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
John Nicholson, The Associated Press
Published Saturday, January 13, 2018 9:36AM MST
The Edmonton Oilers staggered into the desert with three straight losses and only one victory in eight games -- and spotted the lowly Arizona Coyotes an early two-goal lead.
They still found a way to win.
Connor McDavid dominated without scoring and Darnell Nurse and Al Montoya provided unexpected help in the Oilers' 4-2 victory Friday night. Nurse scored twice on rising slap shots from the left circle, and Montoya stopped all 19 shots he faced in relief of Cam Talbot for his first victory with the Oilers.
"It proved we haven't rolled over and played dead," Oilers coach Todd McLellan said. "But I haven't felt that at all from our group."
Nurse broke a tie at 3:57 of the third period, beating goalie Antti Raanta above the glove from about the same spot where the 6-foot-4 defenceman started the comeback in the first.
"Nice to see us be resilient," Nurse said. "It would have been easy for us to say, 'Here we go again."'
Nurse scored his fourth and fifth goals of the season.
"Bullets," McLellan said. "Stepping into shots."
Patrick Maroon and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored, and McDavid had two assists. Montoya made his second appearance after coming over from Montreal last week in a deal for a conditional draft pick.
"You want to go in there and give the team a chance," Montoya said. "A lot of character from this team. The way we hung in there, battled back and got the two points."
Brad Richardson and Josh Archibald scored in a 1:14 span early in the first for Arizona to chase Talbot. The NHL-worst Coyotes were coming off their bye week.
"We beat ourselves," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "Same song and dance."
Nurse pulled Edmonton within 2-1 with 5:44 to go in the first period.
Maroon tied it with 38 seconds left in the first after McDavid's dazzling stickhandling and skating romp through the Arizona zone. McDavid controlled the puck for nearly 15 seconds, weaving out of the left corner to the top of the zone and then back down the crease before finding Oscar Klefbom at the left side of the net for the feed to the open Maroon on the other side.
"McDavid is a heck of player," Tocchet said. "He was the difference in the game."
Richardson jammed in a backhander 2:03 into the game. The fourth-line centre had an open side to shoot at after Nick Cousins deflected Jakob Chychrun's long shot off the crossbar.
Archibald, playing alongside Clayton Keller and Christian Dvorak on the third line, made it 2-0 at 3:17 with a falling one-timer from the edge of the crease off Dvorak's centring pass.
Nugent-Hopkins had an empty-net goal in the final minute.