Coyotes continue to struggle in loss to Jets
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — New Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice is already changing things up after just one day on the job.
Right after his club earned a 5-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night, Maurice displayed a bit of his demanding style.
"I went in and talked a little bit about what I saw, congratulated them on facing some tough adversity and winning, thanked them, and then proceeded to cancel the day off that they had (Tuesday)," he said after the Jets snapped a five-game losing streak.
"It was good enough tonight," Maurice said, "but we can’t rely on that being good enough in our next game. We’ve just got to get better."
Maurice, signed through the end of this season, spent his first night behind the bench after he took over for Claude Noel, who was fired on Sunday.
The Jets have struggled lately, even against teams below them in the standings.
The Coyotes (21-15-9) don’t fit into that category, though they have also slumped recently after a strong start. They are 7-11-6 since opening 14-4-4, and have dropped three in a row.
"It can’t get much lower, and we have to get better," captain Shane Doan said. "It seems that we find new ways (to lose) every time. We haven’t really had an issue with discipline so far this year with penalties, and this time we did.
"You can’t create much offense when you’re short-handed."
Phoenix handed the Jets eight power plays, but Winnipeg scored on only one.
Fans who have been booing the Jets at home recently were on their feet cheering and clapping for much of the game.
They didn’t even wait for it to start to show how they felt about the coaching change. Maurice got his first cheer during the national anthem when his face was displayed on the scoreboard.
"It’s a whole lot nicer being on the home bench when you win, I’m sure, but it was a very special moment for me in my career, and I’ll cherish it," Maurice said.
Olli Jokinen, Eric O’Dell, Blake Wheeler, Michael Frolik and Devin Setoguchi scored for the Jets (20-23-5), who held a 38-19 shots advantage.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored for Phoenix (21-15-9), but that was the only shot that got past goalie Ondrej Pavelec.
"I felt safe with him," Maurice said.
Ekman-Larsson gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead during a power play at 12:16, but the Coyotes didn’t have much time to celebrate.
"They did the one thing that we had talked about," Maurice said. "That when adversity came to the door, that next goal was huge."
Jokinen batted a behind-the-net pass from Dustin Byfuglien past Mike Smith at 12:52 to tie it, and O’Dell scored his second of the season when he dashed in to snap in another shot at 18:00.
With the help of four power-play opportunities, the Jets outshot Phoenix 12-7 in the first period, but both of their goals were scored at even strength. Winnipeg’s power play is ranked 25th in the NHL.
The Jets kept up the pressure in the second until Wheeler backhanded Mark Scheifele’s rebound past Smith to make it 3-1. At the halfway mark of the period the Jets had outshot Phoenix 9-1.
Fans responded with cheers for the intensity the Jets brought to the game instead of the boos that have rained down on the team after some of their more lackluster recent efforts.
Frolik made it 4-1 at 4:18 of the third when his angled shot beat Smith’s glove.
Winnipeg’s power play continued to struggle until midway through the third when Setoguchi dropped to one knee as he slammed a shot past Smith. Byfuglien earned his second assist of the night.
"We did a good job of being ready tonight and playing the right way," captain Andrew Ladd said. "I thought we did a good job of getting a lot of pucks to the net and keeping it simple."
Setoguchi, who broke a goal drought that stretched back to Dec. 2, couldn’t say whether the coaching change made the difference.
"I think everyone’s work ethic was there, and that’s what gave us a chance to win the game," he said.