Seven players debuted for the Coyotes on Saturday night in their 2008-09 season opener at Jobing.com Arena, and three ended up on the score sheet.
Center Olli Jokinen led the way with a power-play goal and a power-play assist in the first period as Phoenix grabbed a 2-0 lead en route to a 3-1 victory over Columbus.
Rookie forward Kevin Porter and defenseman David Hale, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, added assists in their first game with the Coyotes.
Jokinen, of course, was the team's marquee offseason acquisition. To celebrate his arrival, the team gave fans attending the game Jokinen Bobblehead dolls as they came through the arena doors. He scored his goal 6:11 into his tenure with the team after a nice pass from rookie Kyle Turris.
"All of the first period was good for us," Jokinen said. "We were getting pucks behind their defense and they were sitting in the penalty box in the first period. The second period wasn’t that good for us. We found a way to score that third goal and that was big. In the third period, we played smart hockey. That’s the way you should play when you have a two-goal lead. It was a pretty solid first game."
Defenseman Kurt Sauer, forward Todd Fedoruk and rookie forwards Mikkel Boedker
and Viktor Tikhonov
also debuted for the Coyotes on Saturday.
Sauer, who, like Hale, signed as a free agent in the offseason, blocked a team-high five shots.
Asked before the game, Porter said that of the three rookies playing he was the least likely to earn his first NHL point first. After all, he was a fourth-round draft pick and Boedker and Tikhonov were first-round picks.
“Maybe I’ll get the first penalty minutes,” Porter joked. But the reigning Hobey Baker Award winner needed just 6:11 to earn a point, assisting on Jokinen’s goal.
Porter notched his first NHL point in front of several immediate family members who flew to Phoenix for his first game. Tikhonov’s family was present, too. Boedker’s family watched the game on the Internet in Denmark, where it started at 3 a.m.
"It was awesome," Boedker said after the game. "It was a lot of fun out there. I was probably a little nervous because it's what you dream about your whole life, but it was special."