Edmonton Oilers strike early and often on way to win over Coyotes

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Riley Sheahan had a goal and three assists as the Edmonton Oilers topped the Arizona Coyotes 7-3 Saturday afternoon at Rogers Place.

It’s the first four-point game of Sheahan’s career.

“It was a fun game — one of those games where you’re getting the bounces and the puck feels good on your stick,” Sheahan said.

LISTEN BELOW: Riley Sheahan

The Oilers took the lead on a shorthanded goal by Josh Archibald 3:56 into the game. Archibald twisted past Oliver Ekman-Larsson then beat Antii Raanta on a forehand deke.

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Sam Gagner banged in a puck from the side of the net to put the Oilers up 2-0. Still in the first, Raanta made a save on Kailer Yamamoto, but then knocked the puck into his own net when he tried to cover the rebound.

READ MORE: Kailer Yamamoto thanks mentor Brad Malone for success with Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers stretched it to 5-0 with goals in the first five minutes of the second. Connor McDavid beat Raanta up high on the power play, then Joakim Nygard floated in a long wrist shot. That gave the Oilers five goals on ten shots before the game was 25 minutes old.

“Some players have to understand it’s hard to win in this league, and you’ve got to be consistent and that’s something that these nine days — make sure you stay in shape, get your mind right,” Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet said. “That’s a lot of the mental part of this break is make sure you get your mind right.”

“I thought we came out slow from the beginning, a couple of bad goals, stuff like that and obviously, we have been struggling a little bit when we don’t have our legs but we’ve got to find ways to stick around in games and find ways to get points out of it,” Ekman-Larsson said. “It’s a tough one. They wanted it a little bit more.”

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The Coyotes came back with goals from Taylor Hall and Christian Dvorak.

“We got a good start and built off it from that. We didn’t try to force anything. I thought we checked pretty well,” Darnell Nurse said. “You’re going to give up some chances at some point in the game but Smitty made some huge saves in a timely manner and it was a good, solid win throughout for us.”

LISTEN BELOW: Darnell Nurse

McDavid made it 6-2 when he chipped in a pass from Josh Archibald late in the second.

READ MORE: Edmonton Oilers sign Caleb Jones to 2-year contract extension

Derek Stepan beat Mike Smith on a three-on-one six minutes into the third, but the goal was disallowed after the Oilers challenged the play. Video review showed Clayton Keller was offside. Ekman-Larsson picked the top corner for a power-play marker with 8:48 left. Sheahan added an empty netter with 3:46 left.

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“We’re doing some things in the game that I think are building our confidence on how to win,” head coach Dave Tippett said. “We’ve still got a ways to go, but I like the balance in our group, I like the mindset of our group. Maybe out of the 60 minutes, I’d say there was 40 that you’d say are good.”

Smith made 27 saves to win his fifth straight start. Archibald had a goal and two assists.

The Oilers, 26-18-5, now get a break for their bye week and the All-Star Game. They’ll host the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

“Maybe it’d be nice to keep playing but ultimately, you’re going to need the rest,” Tippett said. “Come a month from now, you’re going to look back and say, ‘We’re glad we had that rest,’ because every game is going to have a ton of meaning in it. They’ll be competitive and that’s what’s fun about it right now.”

LISTEN BELOW: Dave Tippett

– With files from 630 CHED’s Brenden Escott and Scott Johnston