A busy day for Paul Maurice ended with a win as he made his debut behind the Winnipeg Jets bench. It was win number 461 of his career, in his 1085th game as an NHL coach. The win snapped the Jets five game losing streak.
The Coyotes opened the scoring on a power play, with Oliver Ekman-Larsson getting his fifth of the year, but 36 seconds later Olli Jokinen with his 12th would tie the game, with Dustin Byfuglien getting the assist. Late in the first Zach Bogosian forced a turnover, with Eric O'Dell notching his second in as many games as the first period ended 2-1.
Coach Maurice reconfigured the lines going into the game, with Devin Setoguchi joining Jokinen and Byfuglien. Michael Frolik moved to the right side with Bryan Little and Andrew Ladd, Mark Scheifele centered Blake Wheeler and Chris Thorburn, with O'Dell between James Wright and Anthony Peluso. Evander Kane remained out of the lineup with a hand injury, while the defence remained the same as it was Saturday. Shots in the first were 12-7 in the Jets favour.
The only goal of the second period came from Wheeler, his team leading 17th of the year. Scheifele had the only assist as he continues to lead all NHL rookies in assists with 17. Shots in the second were 13-6 Jets.
The Coyotes started the third period on a power play and had some chances but Ondrej Pavelec finished the second with a couple of big saves and made a few more in the third when called upon. The Jets put the game away with Frolik breaking a 10-game goalless stretch with his 10th from Adam Pardy and Little. Setoguchi scored his first in 19 games from Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom on a power play to close out the scoring.
For Setoguchi it was his eighth of the year in a game that he was very good in. Pardy how has four assists in his last five games, Byfuglien has three goals and five assists in his last six games, four goals and 11 assists in his last 15 games, and is 18 points in the 24 power play goals the Jets have scored this season. Final shots were 38-19.
The Jets directed 73 shots at the Phoenix goal, with 21 missing and another 14 blocked. Byfuglien led the way with six shots on goal, Enstrom led in ice time with 26:21, Jacob Trouba was a plus-three, while Scheifele led the Jets in face-offs winning 14 of 20 for a 70 per cent success rate. Jets went one for eight on the power play but had 15 power play shots in the game.
As for the game Coach Maurice liked plenty.
"The compete level and energy level of our group. They did the one thing we had talked about that when adversity came to the doorstep that next goal was huge," Maurice said after the game. "The bench didn't get quiet, we stayed positive. It was really, really important that we scored that goal to make it 1-1. They wanted to get out of this, they wanted to make it better."
As for the MTS Centre crowd and the atmosphere in the building, Maurice said it was "awesome, very special for me. I tell every rookie, you get one first game in the NHL. Soak it in, enjoy it and that's what I did. It was a special moment for me in my career."
Asked what he told the players after the game, Maurice added"I normally don't talk much, but I congratulated them, thanked them, and then cancelled the day off they were supposed to have."
Captain Ladd got the game puck and presented it to his Coach.
"The puck means a lot. I will give it to my family," Maurice said post-game.
As for his new team: "We've got some speed, we've got some skill, but we still do things at times we don't need to do. We have to get better."
He also liked the play of Pavelec saying "he was square and where he needed to be. I felt safe with him."
The Jets travel to Calgary for a game Thursday (TSN Jets, TSN 1290) as they are in a stretch of five straight and eight of nine against Western Conference teams.