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The Sports Xchange, Published January 13 2014

Jets cruise to win over Coyotes

WINNIPEG, Manitoba – Paul Maurice owns a perfect record behind the bench of the Winnipeg Jets.

Hired Sunday to replace fired Claude Noel as head coach of the floundering club, Maurice guided the Jets to a convincing 5-1 triumph over the Phoenix Coyotes at a raucous MTS Centre on Monday night.

Winnipeg lost its previous five games, including back-to-back stinkers at home against the Tampa Bay Lighting and Columbus Blue Jackets that spelled the end for Noel and assistant coach Perry Pearn.

Jets general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff saw enough and made the moves, enlisting the aid of Maurice, a coach with nearly 1,100 NHL games under his belt with the Hartford Whalers, Carolina Hurricanes and Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Jets (20-23-5) responded with their most complete effort in weeks.

Phoenix (21-15-9) suffered its third consecutive loss.

The Jets, who led 2-1 and 3-1 at the period breaks, received goals from five forwards, centers Olli Jokinen and Eric O’Dell, and right wingers Blake Wheeler, Michael Frolik and Devin Setoguchi.

Setoguchi snapped his 18-game goalless skid with a third-period, power-play blast.

Maurice, 46, who coached in Europe’s Kontinental Hockey League last winter and did some television work this season, arrived in Winnipeg late Sunday night and had just over an hour with his new club during Monday’s morning skate. He did some minor tinkering with the Jets’ lines, in part because left winger Evander Kane was scratched for the second straight game due to a hand injury.

He also gave the start to goalie Ondrej Pavelec, who had mediocre performances against Tampa Bay and Columbus.

Pavelec benefitted from a sound defensive effort by the Jets, and consequently, he wasn’t overworked. He made just 18 saves in the win.

Mike Smith was much busier, stopping 33 shots in the Phoenix net.

Winnipeg failed to score on four power-play chances in the first period but still grabbed a one-goal lead.

After Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson opened the scoring with his fifth goal of the season, on the power play at 12 minutes, 16 seconds, Jokinen potted his 12th just 36 seconds later. O’Dell fired in his second of the season at 18:00.

Phoenix 1 0 0— 1

Winnipeg 2 1 2— 5

First Period—1, Phoenix, Ekman-Larsson 5 (Boedker, Doan) 12:16 (pp). 2, Winnipeg, Jokinen 12 (Byfuglien) 12:52. 3, Winnipeg, O’Dell 2 (unassisted) 18:00.

Second Period—4, Winnipeg, Wheeler 17 (Scheifele) 8:49.

Third Period—5, Winnipeg, Frolik 10 (Pardy, Little) 4:18. 6, Winnipeg, Setoguchi 8 (Byfuglien, Enstrom) 9:34 (pp).

Shots on Goal—Phoenix 7-6-6—19. Winnipeg 12-13-13—38.

Power-play opportunities—Phoenix 1 of 2. Winnipeg 1 of 8.

Goalies—Phoenix Smith 15-12-8 (38 shots-33 saves). Winnipeg Pavelec 12-19-4 (19-18).

A—15,004 (15,004). T—2:29.