First NHL goal for Surrey's Jujhar Khaira lifts Oilers over Coyotes 3-1

First NHL goal for Surrey’s Jujhar Khaira lifts Oilers over Coyotes 3-1

22-year-old is the third person of Punjabi descent to play in the NHL.

Jujhar Khaira had played it out so many times on the streets of Surrey with his friends.

Khaira’s first goal in the NHL stood up as the winner as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 on Monday for their third straight victory.

“It’s a relief for sure, you always think about it and now I just want to build off it,” said Khaira, a 22-year-old from Surrey. “Growing up as a kid playing street hockey you always picture it (scoring in the NHL) in your head and it’s a reality now and it feels good.”

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl also scored for the Oilers (24-15-7), who have won five of their last seven outings. Cam Talbot made 21 saves for the win.

“Arizona is a team that has really given us trouble in the past, so for us to get out to a good start and build on that throughout the game was big for us,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “It shows that we can get it done, which is important for us down the stretch.”

Radim Vrbata responded for the Coyotes (13-24-6) who have lost 11 of their last 13 games. Coyotes goalie Mike Smith sounded very much like he had had enough following the game after stopping 24 shots.

“I can’t speak for anyone else, but we’ve got too many guys who aren’t doing enough to push this thing along,” he said. “You could feel it on the ice. We were just playing and it was blah. It was blah. And you can’t expect to play like that and compete against a really good hockey team. That’s what we did tonight. We have to learn from it. Sooner or later, this organization’s got to move forward and not continue to have games like this.”

Edmonton took an early lead 3:34 into the first period as Jordan Eberle dropped it to Nugent-Hopkins on an odd-man rush and he sent his ninth of the season past Smith.

Eberle, who hadn’t scored in 17 games coming into the contest, had two glorious opportunities in the first half of the second period, but hit a post on one and was stoned by Smith on a breakaway on the other.

Khaira, who is the third player of Punjabi descent to play in the NHL, made it 2-0 for the Oilers with eight minutes left in the second period. Mark Letestu fed rookie Kharia a pass, who then chipped it over Smith for his first NHL goal. Retired NHLers Robin Bawa and Manny Malhotra are both Punjabi-Canadians.

Connor McDavid retook sole possession of the NHL scoring lead with a pass to Draisaitl a few minutes late. Draisaitl danced around Coyotes defender Lawson Crouse before going up high for his 17th of the season.

Arizona got one back on the power play with two minutes left in the second as Vrbata was left alone in front and buried his 10th of the season on Oilers goalie Cam Talbot.

There was no scoring in the third period.

Both teams return to action on Wednesday, as the Coyotes travel to Winnipeg and the Oilers play the fifth game of a six-game homestand against the Florida Panthers.

Shane Jones, The Canadian Press