Preview: Coyotes at Jets, 5 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — The Arizona Coyotes have one regulation victory over the past five weeks — a 4-3 victory over the Winnipeg Jets five days ago in Glendale.
They’ll try to duplicate that success Wednesday night as the face the Jets in a rematch north of the border. The game can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona and FOX Sports GO, starting at 5 p.m.
The Coyotes (13-24-6) have yet to win at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg since the Jets moved from Atlanta in 2011 — going 0-4-2 in six games.
Arizona is coming off a 3-1 loss at Edmonton on Monday to open a three-game road trip. Mike Smith almost single-handedly kept the Coyotes in the game with spectacular goaltending, but his teammates otherwised mustered little resistance.
Smith and coach Dave Tippett questioned the team’s “emotional engagement” afterwards, and forward Jamie McGinn told ArizonaCoyotes.com that the criticism was warranted.
“You’ve got to have heart,” McGinn said. “That’s what it’s about and that’s where it starts. If you play hard and show that you’re ready to compete, good things are going to happen.”
Tippett was more measured in his critique after a practice on Tuesday in Winnipeg.
“If you look at it, that’s the first game in a month that we haven’t played very well. We just didn’t have it that night. You look around the league, there’s teams that don’t have it on a given night. It just happens sometimes.
“As a coach you keep things in perspective. There’s a reality of the situation that I know everybody wants to blow things out of proportion, but I keep things in pretty good perspective.”
Winnipeg (20-23-4) has its own issues coming into Wednesday’s game, and the Jets, losers of four in a row, have taken a step to address one of them.
After neither Connor Hellebuyck nor Michael Hutchinson was able to provide the kind of goaltending needed for a serious playoff run, the Jets have recalled their former long-time starter Ondrej Pavelec from the minors.
The move unlikely will be long-term as Pavelec’s contract, which pays him $4.75 million per year, expires at the end of this season. There’s no question, however, his return will light a fire under the pads of the other two for the next little while.
“Ondrej’s game started slow and has really improved, we’ve struggled in our net and we’ve got to win hockey games,” Jets coach Paul Maurice told the media said after the goalie’s first practice on Tuesday.
It’s unusual for a club to carry three goaltenders, but the Jets — whose 145 goals allowed are second most in the league — are prepared to do so for the short term.
“Nothing is written in stone,” Maurice said.
Pavelec, a native of the Czech Republic, has been a polarizing figure since he arrived with the rest of the former Atlanta Thrashers in the fall of 2011. He was often criticized for giving up bad goals but was also lauded for putting the team on his back en route to its only playoff appearance in 2015.
Pavelec has played 18 games with the Jets’ minor league affiliate, the Manitoba Moose — with whom they share the same home rink — going 8-7-2 with a 2.78 goals-against average and .917 save percentage. He has played 371 NHL games over nine seasons, compiling a 148-154-47 record, a 2.86 career GAA and a .907 save percentage.
Wednesday’s game also marks the return of another familiar face, but this one will be wearing a Coyotes’ jersey.
Alex Burmistrov, a first-round draft pick of the Thrashers in 2010, was placed on waivers by the Jets a couple of weeks ago and picked up by Arizona. With the arrival of youngsters such as Patrik Laine and Nikolaj Ehlers, the 25-year-old found himself falling down the Jets’ depth chart and was a frequent healthy scratch this season.
Due to visa issues, Burmistrov has played just one game with the Coyotes, recording an assist in the loss at Edmonton. He said he’s looking forward to playing his friends and former teammates.
“I love the boys, I love the crowd,” he said. “The fans are great, they always supported me good. It’s going to be a special night.
“I’m sure it’s going to be weird, awkward, seeing your ex-teammates skating on the other side in the warmup.”
Forward Radim Vrbata leads Arizona with 10 goals, 18 assists and 28 points. He has one goal and three assists in two games against the Jets this season.
Center Mark Scheifele leads Winnipeg with 42 points. Rookie Patrik Laine, who has a team-high 21 goals, is sidelined indefinitely because of a concussion.