After a long offseason and the recent conclusion of training camp, the Arizona Coyotes are finally ready to begin the 2014-15 NHL season this week. The Coyotes open this year’s schedule with four games at Gila River Arena in Glendale and it begins on Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets. Since relocating from Atlanta in 2011, Winnipeg has had a lot of success against the former Jets. With these teams getting ready to open their seasons against each other, let’s take a look at their previous meetings.
October 15, 2011 – Coyotes 4, Jets 1
The first time these teams met was another home opener for the Coyotes three seasons. Daymond Langkow scored 34 seconds into the game and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored twice in Arizona’s 4-1 victory. In his first home game as a Coyote, goaltender Mike Smith stopped 18 shots for the win. This has been the only time that Arizona has won against the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise since the Thrashers relocated.
December 1, 2011 – Jets 1, Coyotes 0
This game marked the first time that the former Jets had played a game in Winnipeg since April 28, 1996 when the Detroit Red Wings eliminated them from the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs. This game ended the same way for the Coyotes as Bryan Little scored the only goal of the game to give Winnipeg a 1-0 win. Goaltender Ondrej Pavelec made 33 saves for the win, and also got a bit of puck luck late in the contest that preserved the shutout.
January 13, 2014 – Jets 5, Coyotes 1
Due to the Jets still holding Atlanta’s place in the Eastern Conference and the 2013 lockout, Arizona and Winnipeg went more than two years without facing each other. In their first game as members of the same conference, Winnipeg turned in a dominating performance as 10 different Jets recorded a point in their 5-1 victory at MTS Centre. It was also the first win for Paul Maurice as the Jets’ head coach, who coached his first game with Winnipeg after the team fired Claude Noel. Ekman-Larsson had the only goal for the Coyotes.
February 27, 2014 – Jets 3, Coyotes 2 (SO)
Like the previous three games, this meeting carried another first between Arizona and Winnipeg. This was the first game between these two teams that went beyond regulation as Martin Hanzal’s power-play goal in the third period tied the game to force overtime. The game was decided in a shootout, where former Coyote Olli Jokinen scored in the fourth round to give Winnipeg a 2-1 lead. Mike Ribeiro had an opportunity to extend the tiebreaker, but Pavelec denied him to give the Jets their third consecutive win over the Coyotes.
April 1, 2014 – Jets 2, Coyotes 1 (SO)
This was another game that required more than 60 minutes and ended with another victory for Winnipeg. Ladd, who had the Jets’ goal during regulation, was the only one who scored in the shootout. Pavelec stopped Mikkel Boedker, Radim Vrbata, and Antoine Vermette to seal the win. In yet another first, Winnipeg’s victory marked the first time that the visiting team had won.
That game was part of a stretch where the Coyotes lost seven of their final eight games last season and ended up missing the playoffs by two points. Meanwhile, the Jets also finished outside the postseason picture for the third straight year in Winnipeg, and the seventh consecutive season going back to their time in Atlanta. However, a new season brings a clean slate for both Arizona and Winnipeg as these two teams prepare to write the next chapter of their growing rivalry.
Charles Woodall-Pike is a journalist who writes about the Arizona Coyotes for The Hockey Writers.