Ten months ago today, the Phoenix Coyotes played their home opener against the newly formed Winnipeg Jets. The previous summer saw rumors and even news reports stating that the Coyotes would be moving away from Glendale and going to Winnipeg. Instead, the Coyotes remained in Arizona and the Atlanta Thrashers were moved to Winnipeg instead. To add even more intrigue to the game, the Coyotes existence in Arizona came after the original Winnipeg Jets were moved to Phoenix in 1996. The game was simply the old Jets versus the new Jets.
Daymond Langkow opened up the scoring just 34 seconds into the game. It was Langkow’s first goal in a Coyotes uniform since March 16, 2004. Oliver Ekman-Larsson added another goal just a few minutes later. Despite taking three first period penalties, the Coyotes led 2-0 at the first intermission.
The Coyotes would take a 3-0 lead after Ekman-Larsson scored his second goal of the night. Jets captain Andrew Ladd would score a goal late in the second period to make the game 3-1 Coyotes at the second intermission.
The lone goal of the third period was scored by Ray Whitney on the power play. Yes, the Coyotes scored on a power play! Mike Smith made 18 saves on 19 shots and earned his first victory as a Coyote. Smith even stopped a penalty shot by Jets forward Nik Antropov in the third period.
The Coyotes won their home opener 4-1 and defeated the team that they used to be. The Coyotes improved their record in home openers to 11-3-1.
NOTES: The next installment of “A Look Back” will be Sunday, August 19.
The NHL Network is re-showing the entire Blackhawks/Coyotes Western Conference Quarter Final tonight (Wednesday).