The Phoenix Coyotes opened their season in the best way possible with a big win over the New York Rangers.
Forward Radim Vrbata led the team in scoring with his first hat trick of the season and plenty of other Coyotes opened their point accounts of the season. After Vrbata's second, the 'Yotes pushed on and never looked back.
When all was said and done, the Coyotes were clearly the better team on Thursday. There's not a much better way to start a season than dominating one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference in with a 4-1 victory.
The Coyotes scored the all-important first goal of the game 3:36 into the first period. It came from the Coyotes' fourth line when Rob Klinkhammer won a puck on the forecheck and fed it to Kyle Chipchura in the slot. 1-0.
Who knew the Coyotes had a power play? Thanks to the addition of assistant coach Newell Brown and center Mike Ribeiro, the 'Yotes were able to threaten -- and more importantly, possess the puck -- for nearly two minutes every man-up opportunity they had. That's going to be key this season.
Radim Vrbata scored a hat trick on the night, locking the Coyotes' win basically by himself. Can we continue this all year?
Despite a well-played game, the Coyotes did not look confident on the penalty kill. At times they looked to eager to attack on the shorthand or seemed out of position. Discipline is key in Dave Tippett's system and the Coyotes will need to solidify the kill as the season progresses.
He Said It:
"We'd be alright if he only got one next game instead of three. I think we could work with that." -- Head coach Dave Tippett on Vrbata's hat trick.
• The Coyotes welcomed their first sellout crowd of the season on Thursday. A total of 17,125 fans were on hand to welcome the first official regular season game under new ownership.
• Speaking of ownership, members of IceArizona, the new owners of the Coyotes, performed the ceremonial puck drop prior to the game.
• Vrbata's hat trick was his second in consecutive season games. He closed out the 2013 regular season with a hat trick.
The Coyotes will board a plane and head to San Jose for a division matchup with the San Jose Sharks. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.