GLENDALE, Ariz. — Alexander Edler’s shot glanced off the post and bounced off goaltender Mike Smith’s back and in with 3:13 left to snap a tie, and the Vancouver Canucks avoided a second tough loss to Arizona with a 3-1 victory Sunday.
A day after a stirring win in Los Angeles, the Canucks had hit the post four previous times while Smith stopped 41 shots in a remarkable performance a day after inadvertently banking a clearance pass off Brandon Sutter’s backside and into his own net.
But Edler’s goal on the power play helped the second-place Canucks move four points ahead of idle Calgary in the Pacific Division.
Yannick Weber scored in the first period and Henrik Sedin added an empty-netter with 1:09 left.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored on an end-to-end play when he roofed the second rebound of his own shot in the first period for his 20th goal for Arizona. Backup Jacob Markstrom stopped 24 shots
The Coyotes have lost 18 of 19, with their lone win a 3-2 shootout victory over Vancouver on March 5.
Vancouver had that on its mind as right wing Alexandre Burrows played, a day after he was shaken up when the Kings’ Tyler Toffoli crosschecked him into the boards. The hit that earned him a game misconduct.
The Canucks had 13 of the game’s first 16 shots, the last one Weber’s career-high seventh goal on a feed into the slot from Daniel Sedin at 14:23.
But Ekman-Larsson’s remarkable play tied it barely minute later as he moved back into the lead in goals among NHL defencemen with 20.
Vancouver had hit the post four times and had 28 shots through two periods, but couldn’t solve Smith. He turned 33 Sunday, a day after he made blooper reels when his clearance from behind the net in a loss to Pittsburgh.
This time, he was a victim of bad luck. Elder’s shot glanced off the left post and Smith didn’t know where it was as it fluttered in off his back.
It was another frustrating night for a team that’s focused on rebuilding. After gutting their roster at the trade deadline, the Coyotes are plummeting to the bottom of the standings. A 30th-place finish would give them the most chances in the lottery to get the No. 1 pick and likely the prized Connor McDavid.
The Coyotes (50 points) have moved below Edmonton (53) into 29th place in the past week. Arizona still has two meetings with last-place Buffalo (47).
NOTES: Canucks coach Willie Desjardins had no opinion on the NHL’s decision to not further discipline Toffoli. “I honestly didn’t see it,” he said. … Ekman-Larsson is the first defenceman to reach 20 goals for the Coyotes since they moved to Arizona. … Coyotes RW Martin Erat (upper body) returned after sitting out Saturday. … Canucks RW Radim Vrbata, who spent the previous five seasons in Arizona, earned his 24th assist on Weber’s goal. … Canucks C Brandon McMillan played against his former team with Ronnie Kenins scratched.
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