ROSS D. FRANKLIN/AP
Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the Arizona Coyotes aren’t going to the NHL playoffs this season. However, that doesn’t mean they’re taking it easy against contending teams.
Ekman-Larsson scored twice late in the third period, including his 100th career goal, to lead the Coyotes to a 5-2 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night.
The 26-year-old is just the second Coyotes defenceman to reach the milestone and the 18th player in franchise history to do so.
“That just means I’m doing something good out there,” Ekman-Larsson said.
The Coyotes previously hung tough into the third period before losing against playoff-bound Nashville and Minnesota, and beat Los Angeles in a shootout.
“We understand we are not in the playoffs, but we understand we are playing teams that are going in the playoffs,” Coyotes assistant coach John MacLean said. “We understand we have to match their intensity … we didn’t back off all night.”
Max Domi also had two goals for Arizona, including an empty-netter with 21 seconds left, and had an assist on Ekman-Larsson’s tiebreaking goal. Richard Panik scored early in the second period for the Coyotes, and Antti Raanta stopped 42 shots.
Dougie Hamilton had a goal and an assist, and Sean Monahan also scored as Calgary — with its wild card hopes fading — lost for the fourth time in five games. Mike Smith finished with 25 saves.
Domi stole a pass in the Calgary zone and beat Smith to tie the score at 2-2 with about 2 1/2 minutes left in the second period.
Both teams missed several scoring chances in the third period until Ekman-Larsson put the Coyotes ahead with 3:41 remaining, then added an empty-netter 2:04 later for his 13th of the season to double the lead.
Smith started his first game at Gila River Arena since the Flames acquired him from Arizona last summer. A video tribute to the Coyotes’ all-time leader in games played and shutouts among goalies was shown during a stoppage in play in the first period, and Smith offered a quick wave after being welcomed back.
“It’s disappointing, frustrating, you think you have an opportunity to get some points here tonight and you let it slip away,” Smith said. “So it hurts. We needed tonight’s game. It was a big game for us and we let it slide again.”
Arizona went up 1-0 on Panik’s goal at 5:15 of the second. Panik fired in a wrist shot from his knees off Clayton Keller’s cross-ice pass. Keller, a rookie, scored a point in his fifth straight game and has nine in his last 10 games. His 53 points lead the Coyotes this season.
The Flames tied it on Hamilton’s goal at 9:05 of the second, his 16th of the season. Hamilton’s 43 points lead Calgary defencemen.
The Flames took the lead with 4:32 left in the middle period as Monahan put in a rebound for his team-leading 31st. The advantage lasted just two minutes.
Domi recorded his second three-point night of the season.
“I’ll take it, but all that matters is the two points,” Domi said.
Neither team scored in the first period, but a goal by Monahan at with about seven minutes to go was disallowed because of a delayed penalty. The Coyotes totalled six penalty minutes in the first, all related to physical play and scuffles with Flames players.
Domi was called for high sticking and raised his penalty-minute total to 67, which leads the Coyotes.