The team formerly known as the Jets, the Phoenix Coyotes, took on the newly christened Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night in Glendale, Arizona. It was a game rich with storylines headed into puck drop; the new Jets versus the former Jets.
34 seconds into the first period, a Jets turnover on the boards behind the net quickly found its way in front of the Winnipeg goal. Daymond Langkow placed himself at the top of Chris Mason’s crease and batted the puck into the back of the net to give the Coyotes the quick lead.
A boarding penalty to Coyotes’ forward Paul Bissonnette at 3:58 into the first period sent the Jets to their first powerplay of the game, looking to even up the score. Winnipeg had some trouble setting up a sustained powerplay in the offensive zone, and remained off the scoreboard.
Nine minutes into the game a loose puck in front of Jets goaltender Chris Mason created all kinds of traffic in the crease as the Jets scrambled to clear the puck. Coyotes’ defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson found the loose puck and sent it past Mason to set Phoenix ahead 2-0.
A couple of penalties to the Coyotes in the second half of the first period gave the Jets some prime opportunities to get back in the game, but they were unable to capitalize. The first period ended with the Jets trailing 2-0, and behind 11-5 in shots.
Jets Head Coach Claude Noel began the second period by shaking up his line combinations, hoping to spark a turnaround. Rookie Mark Scheifele started the middle frame alongside Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler.
Ron Hainsey was charged with high-sticking 3:43 into the second period, getting his stick into the face of Coyotes defenceman Keith Yandle. Even with four minutes on the man-advantage, the Coyotes couldn’t capitalize as the Jets PK, led by the stellar play of Chris Mason, kept them off the board.
Midway through the second period the Jets began to increase their pressure on Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. Once they found their offensive rhythm, them were able to generate some more chances.
Taylor Pyatt poked the puck past the Jets defenceman trying to hold the offensive zone. Oliver Ekman-Larsson jumped into the rush late, winding up and fired the puck into the Jets net to put the Coyotes ahead 3-0 with five minutes left in the second period.
With 18.9 seconds left in the period, Tobias Enstrom fired a shot from the blueline. Jets captain Andrew Ladd tipped the puck and deflected it past Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith to get Winnipeg on the board.
The middle frame ended with the Jets trailing 3-1 on the scoreboard, and behind 21-14 on the shot clock.
Andrew Ladd was sent to the box 5:14 into the third period, putting the Coyotes on the man-advantage for the second time in the night. A Coyotes slap shot went wide of the Jets net, Martin Hanzal sent the puck into the front of the net where Ray Whitney was waiting and he knocked the puck past Chris Mason to put the Jets behind 4-1.
Not long after the Coyotes goal, Mark Stuart was caught with a high-stick, putting the Jets penalty kill to work once again.
While shorthanded Nik Antropov was sprung on a breakaway. Antropov was clear of the Coyotes defenceman, but was hooked up on the play, giving the Jets forward a penalty shot. Antropov took the puck in on Mike Smith, made a good move, but Smith was still able to outlast Antropov and keep the puck out of the net.
It seemed as though Chris Thorburn had scored a goal for the Winnipeg Jets. Evander Kane had raced into the Coyotes zone, knocking over goaltender Mike Smith behind the net. The loose puck made its way to Thorburn who was in the slot with a wide-open cage, but interference call was made on Kane by the referee.
With five minutes remaining in the game, Evander Kane powered into the Coyotes zone, in the process drawing a hooking penalty, sending the Jets to the powerplay.
The Jets finished the game 0-for-4 on the powerplay, while the Coyotes scored a single powerplay goal to go 1-for-4 on the night. Jets goaltender Chris Mason stopped 30 of 34 shots, while Mike Smith stopped 18 of 19 shots for the Phoenix win.