Coyotes produce special response against Jets
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Coyotes have been shut out a Western Conference-high seven times this season. There’s no brand of lipstick that can pretty up that pig.
But you can’t complain about the team’s response when it gets dragged through the mud.
Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, goalie Mike Smith made 34 saves and the Coyotes matched a season-high with three power-play goals in a thorough 4-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at Gila River Arena. Arizona improved to 5-2 in games immediately following a shutout. The Coyotes average four goals in those seven games.
"Maybe we should just show the tape of the 6-0 game before(hand)," said coach Dave Tippett, whose team lost 6-0 to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday while allowing three power-play goals. "We certainly had a better effort tonight."
The win was all the more impressive because the Coyotes played without injured center Martin Hanzal and injured defenseman Zbynek Michalek, two players who would normally play crucial matchup roles against the big, fast and physical Jets.
Hanzal’s absence against the Blues was glaring, but there was a much higher compete level on Thursday and the Coyotes also benefitted from a decisive edge in special teams.
On Winnipeg’s first power play, the Jets had a goal waved off immediately because former Coyote draft pick Blake Wheeler was ruled to have interfered with Smith. Wheeler was unhappy with the call, insisting that he had a right to stand in the area outside the crease, but replays clearly showed he was in the blue paint the entire time and never allowed Smith a chance to establish position to make a save.
"The last time we played them they embarrassed us," said Doan of a 6-2 loss to the Jets in the season opener. "It was big for us to get the lead, play with the lead and then add to it and keep going."
Jets forward Mathieu Perreault scored at the 6:49 mark of the third period to cut the lead to 3-1 off a touch pass from Andrew Ladd. But Boedker re-established a three-goal lead when he carried a puck in from the neutral zone, blew past the Jets defense and waited Pavelec out before putting a puck in the far side.
"When you come with speed it makes it a lot to easier to make a move," said Boedker, who is tied for the team-lead with 11 goals. "You see room, you take it and you make the best of it. That was one of the better things I’ve done with the puck."
Boedker and Doan’s contributions were a big lift for the Coyotes. Hanzal and Sam Gagner had been the hot line but with Hanzal out, the Coyotes needed someone to pick up the slack.
"I thought all four of our lines played hard and played simple," Tippett said. "We revisited a lot of parts of our game that needed revisiting after the St. Louis game and the attention to detail and compete levels were higher.
"It’s a step in the right direction. Now the ability to back it up, night after night, is what we’re looking for."