Back on March 12, 2016, the Arizona Coyotes ventured up to Edmonton to play the Oilers, and the Coyotes came out victorious with the return of goalie Mike Smith by shutting out the Edmonton Oilers 4-0.
Every astute hockey fan in Arizona was anxious to see Connor McDavid perform in a local game back on January 12, 2016 against Max Domi, but McDavid wasn't quite up to it, still recovering from a clavicle injury.
Max Domi Dominated
In that contest, Max Domi accumulated his first NHL hat trick in helping the Coyotes win 4-3. Could things have turned out differently with McDavid in the lineup? Who knows but, Domi had it going on in this game.
Ever since the two battled against each other in the Ontario Hockey League, where Domi played for the London Knights and McDavid played for the Erie Otters, the two have been fierce competitors.
In Tuesday's game, McDavid aimed to show Domi that he can play in the NHL, and very well at that. In the last game in Edmonton, both young rookies displayed their skills with speed and ability.
First Domi broke in and hit the post. Then, McDavid in the very next rush up ice went in on Smith for a near breakaway, with Smith stopping him.
Speaking of Mike Smith, he got the start on his birthday. His dominance over the Oilers was surely a factor for him to continue his stellar play since returning from an injury which put him out for 40 games.
OEL Is Back
Also back in action was Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who has missed six games due to a bruised shoulder, His power play expertise has been missed in his absence.
Let The Game Begin
The first period was evenly matched with the visiting Oilers gathering 14 shots on Smith, while the home Coyotes threw 13 shots at Cam Talbot.
The Coyotes struck first, with their first goal in 126:32 of play over the past several games. Oliver Ekman-Larsson made an immediate impact by sending a shot on Talbot who didn't harness in the rebound, allowing Alex Tanguay to easily score at the 5:38 mark.
The Oilers came back with a power play goal at 9:04 by Jordan Eberle, when Michael Stone was called for holding at 7:24. The Coyotes had another two man advantage for over a minute but couldn't come through with a goal.
Second Period Happenings
The Desert Dogs took a 2-1 lead at 12:22 of the second stanza when Michael Stone blasted a shot from the left point, which was deflected by Martin Hanzal and into the back of the net for his 11th goal of the season.
Tobias Rieder followed that up with a goal of his own at 17:02 with a helper from Brad Richardson. Rieder worked hard to earn the goal, as he skated in front of Cam Talbot, and got help from Talbot as he tried to clear the puck only to put it right on Rieder's stick. Tobias responded by lifting it over the reminders' shoulder for his 13th tally this year.
The Coyotes' lead was short-lived, as Edmonton got one back just 54 seconds later on their second power play score with Shane Doan in the slammer for holding at 17:34. Mark Letestu got help from Connor McDavid gathering his second assist on both Oiler power play goals.
Thus far, McDavid is winning the duel of the rookies. McDavid now has 14 goals, 28 assists in this his 39th game. Domi has 18 goals, 28 assists in 72 games. It makes you wonder what McDavid's statistics would have been like had he not missed nearly a half season due to injury.
Third Period Drama
Both teams had excellent chances to take command of the game, but with about eight minutes remaining, the Oilers' Taylor Hall had a wide open net to the right of a sprawling Mike Smith, and sent his bid over the net and wide.
The Oilers had many opportunities to tie the game in the last half of the period, only to come up short, due partly to Mike Smith's exceptional netminding.
With the Oilers pulling Talbot with over a minute left in the third period, the Coyotes' Max Domi scored into the open net to continue the Coyotes' reign over the hapless Edmonton hockey club.
The win pulled the Arizona Coyotes to 71 points this season, but they are still trailing for a playoff spot.
At the Head Coach's press conference after the game, Coach Dave Tippett had this to say about Max Domi's expanded responsibilities.
"I think he could be a good penalty killer, as he comes on. He's a young player, we've integrated him into the power play, a lot of offensive situations. There's some responsibility that he's continued to grab on to, but I mean good young players like that... they continue to expand their game. So, that's one part of his game, I think you saw tonight, there's something to grab on to there. He created a chance, created a penalty. You know his quickness is unbelievable. Quickness and a good stick. I think he should be a good penalty killer. We'll keep working him into that."