Buckle up, Arizona Coyotes fans. It may be a long season.
Or maybe it won’t be, but the Desert Dogs certainly didn’t start the 2014-15 year out on the right foot.
In their season opener on Thursday night, the Coyotes hosted the Winnipeg Jets, a team that was barely over .500 last year.
The Jets struck first at Gila River Arena, scoring a goal seven minutes into the contest. Arizona’s Mikkel Boedker promptly returned the favor 38 seconds later, and it looked like a thrilling contest was in store.
However, Winnipeg kept finding ways to get the best of Mike Smith, scoring three more goals on him before the period ended.
That would be pretty much all the cushion the Jets needed. Both teams combined for a few scores over the last two periods, but the visiting team emerged with a 6-2 victory.
Here’s a look at Thursday’s lopsided game by the numbers:
It took Coyotes left wing Mikkel Boedker four games to record his first goal last season, but this time around, it only took him 7 minutes and 38 seconds. His wrist shot from about 30 feet out was assisted by Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Arizona has fared pretty well over the last few years in season openers, but Thursday’s loss put them at a 6-4 mark over the last 10 campaigns.
The two teams had a combined eight power play opportunities, but neither was able to convert with the advantage, although Jets center Bryan Little scored a shorthanded goal in the third period.
At one point in the first period, Jets right wing Blake Wheeler scored two goals in a span of 15 seconds, which put Winnipeg up 3-1. If you’re wondering, no Wheeler didn’t get the hat trick, but Little also recorded two goals on the night.
With the visitors putting on a show at Gila River Arena, things got particularly testy, especially in the opening period. The Coyotes finished the game with 21 penalty minutes as a team, compared to the Jets’ 17.
Despite the disparity on the scoreboard, the Coyotes actually recorded more shots on goal (28-27). However, when the Jets did most of their damage in the first period, they finished the frame with a 16-8 advantage in shots on goal.
It obviously was a night to forget for the Coyotes goaltender. Smith allowed six goals in 27 shots, which makes for a save percentage of .778. Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec stopped all but two of the 28 shots that came at him, good for a percentage of .929.
More than 17,000 fans filed into the arena to see the Coyotes’ season opener, marking a sellout to start the campaign.