It was Black Friday for Christmas shoppers but at Gila River Arena the Arizona Coyotes gave their head coach a great gift. With a 2-1 overtime victory against the Calgary Flames, Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett won his 500th career game and in his usual manner he was understated afterwards.
“It means I’ve been around a long time,” Tippett said. “I’ve been really lucky in the two organizations I’ve worked for that have great players. Players win games. Coaches don’t win games.”
Tippett is the 22nd coach in NHL history to amass 500 career victories and it was made possible by Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s game winning goal with 39.9-seconds left in overtime. With the win the Coyotes improved to 12-9-1 this season and are 7-1-0 in the Pacific Division. The Flames have now dropped two-straight and fell to 8-13-2.
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith stopped 26 of 27 shots and improved to 10-5-1 with a 2.81 GAA. Smith was a backup goalie for Tippett with the Dallas Stars from 2006-2008. The vagabond netminder was reunited in Arizona with his former coach in 2011 and it sparked a career renaissance.
“He’s obviously a special coach,” Smith said. “He’s a big reason why I’m here and helped turn my career around. I owe a lot to him.”
Martin Hanzal opened up the scoring with his 5th goal of the season 29-seconds into the second period. Calgary tied it up at 16:40 in the second stanza on Mark Giordano’s fifth goal of the season.
Arizona has now won three of their last four games but they get about 22-hours to enjoy their hot streak. On Saturday night they host the Ottawa Senators before hitting the road for a five-game road trip.
“Reality is we didn’t play very well tonight but we got points,” Tippett said. “We have an opportunity to sweep three-games at home before we go on the road. If you look at the way our schedule is set up these are three critical games.”