GLENDALE, Ariz. - The Coyotes won their fifth consecutive home opener Saturday night in front of 17,125 fans at Jobing.com Arena.
Olli Jokinen scored his first goal in a Coyotes sweater, and Peter Mueller and Keith Yandle added goals in a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rookie Kevin Porter earned his first NHL point, an assist.
“We came out flying tonight,” Jokinen said. “We had a lot of energy out there.”
The Coyotes' power play clicked early on Saturday and gave Phoenix a 2-0 lead after one period.
Jokinen scored the first goal for the Coyotes at 6:11 after receiving a nice pass from Kyle Turris from along the sideboards.
“With the play Turris made on the first goal, it looks like the guy has been in the league for 10 years,” Jokinen said. “That was his fourth game. It was a good, heads-up play.”
Jokinen later fed a perfect pass to Mueller, who blasted a one-timer past Blue Jackets goalie Pascal Leclaire for a 2-0 lead with 1:47 left in the first period.
The Coyotes came out flat in the second period and Columbus pulled to within 2-1 when Derick Brassard beat Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov with a power-play goal 4:10 into the period. Columbus All-Star Rick Nash had two short-handed breakaway chances early in the second period but failed to convert on either one.
"Very rarely do you see Nash miss one, let alone two," Gretzky said. "And he had a third (chance) in tight. I thought Nash had an outstanding game. He seemed to be dangerous every time he was around the puck."
Yandle helped Phoenix recapture the momentum when he blasted a shot through traffic and past LeClaire from just inside the blue line with 13:16 left in the second period.
That was the end of the scoring, but it wasn’t the end of the action. The teams played a physical third period and several Coyotes delivered crushing checks. The Coyotes outhit the Blue Jackets 24-13 in the game. Captain Shane Doan led the way with nine hits.
Coyotes forward Daniel Winnik received a nasty cut thanks to a stick to his face, but he should be able to play Sunday at Anaheim.
Bryzgalov made 28 saves.
“It was a great start for him,” said Gretzky, who is 3-1-0 in season openers. “He made some keys saves."
The Coyotes return to the ice Sunday for their first road game of the 2008-09 season when they take on the Anaheim Ducks. The game starts at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast on FS Arizona in HD.