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Boedker's two goals lift Coyotes past Jets

by Jerry Brown /

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes came into their game Thursday against the Winnipeg Jets with a goalie who was struggling mightily and a penalty kill that ranked last in the NHL.

They got a huge boost from each to help continue a trend of rebounding from ugly losses.

Goalie Mike Smith made 34 saves and the Coyotes went 7-for-7 on the penalty kill in a 4-1 win against the Jets on Thursday at Gila River Arena.

Arizona went 3-for-5 on the power play, and the Coyotes (16-20-4) won for the fifth time in the past seven games.

Mikkel Boedker had two goals and an assist, and captain Shane Doan scored a goal and had a season-high three points for the Coyotes, who scored two of their three power-play goals in the first 3:18 of the game in building a lead they would not relinquish.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored his eighth power-play goal, tops among NHL defensemen, and the Coyotes defeated a Central Division team for the first time in 12 games (1-8-3).

Mathieu Perreault scored for the Jets (20-14-7) in the third period to deny Smith of his first shutout in 35 games. Smith came into the game with a 3.57 goals-against average, 42nd among NHL goalies.

"I feel like I've taken a big step in the right direction and I have to continue to work on it," said Smith, who allowed all the goals in a 6-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. "It was great to get up a couple of goals right off the bat, and that game (Thursday) seemed to have more flow to it. Our PK did a great job letting me see shots and not getting to too many rebounds.

"I feel like I have a little bit of swagger back in my game, and it's nice to get rewarded tonight."

Arizona has been shut out seven times this season, tied with the Buffalo Sabres for most in the League. But the Coyotes are 5-2-0 and have scored 28 goals in games following a shutout loss.

Arizona killed off two 5-on-3 power-play opportunities for Winnipeg, which is 0-for-10 with a two-man advantage this season.

The Coyotes have scored three power-play goals in two of three games; they also had three in a 6-3 victory against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

"The last time we played them (a 6-3 Winnipeg win Oct. 9) we were embarrassed, and we were embarrassed against St. Louis," Doan said. "It was big for us to get the lead, play with the lead, add to it and keep going."

Ondrej Pavelec, playing for the third time since Dec. 16, made 26 saves for Winnipeg and earned praise from coach Paul Maurice.

"In a 4-1 game you'd think our [goalie] wasn't good, but [Pavelec] was really strong," Maurice said. "He made some great saves. We just can't be in the penalty box as much as we've been and not have a night like that."

The Jets had six power-play goals in their past four games, but came up empty Thursday.

"We lost the special-teams battles," Perreault said. "They get three goals on the power play and they were just better than us."

A game featuring two struggling goalies -- Smith had one win since Dec. 1 coming in, and Pavelec had one since Dec. 2 -- had five penalties in the first period, setting the tone.

Winnipeg's Bryan Little was called for tripping Smith 23 seconds into the game, and Arizona wasted little time capitalizing. Pavelec stopped Ekman-Larsson's shot from the point, but Antoine Vermette slid the rebound back to Boedker, who put a wrist shot from the slot through traffic at 1:10 for his first goal in 12 games.

The Jets gave the Coyotes another power play when defenseman Ben Chiarot was called for hooking against Tobias Rieder at 3:09. Nine seconds later, Doan found Ekman-Larsson charging in from the point, and Ekman-Larsson beat Pavelec to make it 2-0. The goal proved to be Ekman-Larsson's sixth game-winning goal, the most in the NHL.

The opening period could have been worse for the Jets, but Pavelec made big saves on Lucas Lessio and Kyle Chipchura to keep them close.

The Coyotes were called for three penalties in a span of 2:17 at the end of the first to give the Jets two 5-on-3 power plays. But Winnipeg got one shot in 1:07 on the first two-man advantage and one in 36 seconds on the other, and Arizona's two-goal lead survived the period.

The Jets had an apparent power-play goal waved off during the sequence when Blake Wheeler fell down on top of Smith in the crease as a Dustin Byfuglien shot deflected off him and into the net. Arizona defenseman Chris Summers was penalized on the play, but the goal didn't stand.

"My feeling is it hits off me and goes in the net. It's a good goal, and I get tackled over top of the goalie," Wheeler said. "I'm allowed to stand in the crease. That's my ice, and when the goalie comes out into me, that is still my ice. I didn't get an explanation."

Arizona made it 3-0 with another power-play goal in the second. After the Coyotes failed to convert a long 5-on-3 chance, Doan cleaned up a Michael Stone rebound at 5-on-4 at 15:35 for his ninth goal.

Perreault got Winnipeg on the board at 6:49 of the third period with an extra attacker on the ice on a delayed penalty against Arizona.

Boedker closed out the scoring, going end to end and beating Pavelec with a move across the crease at 8:55 for his second multigoal game of the season.

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