Once is enough for rookie Nail Yakupov. After he batted a power-play goalmouth rebound past Phoenix Coyotes goalie Chad Johnson with 68 seconds left in overtime on Wednesday night to give the Edmonton Oilers a 2-1 victory, the Russian stayed on his feet and wiggled his fingers, asking his teammates to join him in a group hug. No sliding 80 feet down the ice on his knees, like he joyously did when he batted one behind Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to tie it 1-1 with 4.1 seconds left last week, which earned him thousands of YouTube and TSN highlight of the night hits. The Kings didn't like Yakupov's theatrics last Thursday at Rexall Place. Same with the Coyotes, who didn't like losing to the same sort of bang-bang play — this time on an Oilers four-on-three power play — but it was more because they believed the goal shouldn't have counted, not how it was celebrated. "We thought it was directed by a hand pass (Oilers blue-liner Ryan Whitney)," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. Phoenix defenceman Derek Morris lost his cool and decked Whitney with a punch as the defenceman huddled by Yakupov. "I don't know what he was trying to do. He drops his gloves and I'm burying my head," said Whitney, who was standing in front of Johnson, not on the point, after Taylor Hall got him the puck on the power play for his eighth point of the year. Antoine Vermette was in the penalty box for high-sticking Jordan Eberle. The Coyotes had tied the game with 19 seconds remaining in the third on a power play of their own with Sam Gagner in the box and Johnson pulled for an extra skater to give them a six-on-four advantage. Nick Johnson lifted one over Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk, who had blanked the Coyotes since Lennart Petrell got one past Johnson five minutes into the game after some excellent work by Ryan Smyth on a wraparound attempt. Yakupov stood along the back glass after his goal, before the fireworks by Morris.
Yakupov scores overtime winner for Oilers
Edmonton Journal | Jan 31