VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - The Phoenix Coyotes didn't win for their new head coach on Wednesday night. They did leave a good impression with ``The Great One.''
Markus Naslund scored two goals and Dan Cloutier made 16 of his 30 saves in the first period to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 victory over the Coyotes in Wayne Gretzky's coaching debut.
``To be honest with you we played a pretty solid game,'' Gretzky said. ``We want to win every night but we've got 81 more games to go and if I get the effort like that tonight and we keep improving from where we were three weeks ago to now, we'll win our share of games. Believe me.''
Mattias Ohlund also scored and Brendan Morrison had two assists for the Canucks, who led 2-0 after two periods.
Keith Ballard - one of two rookie defensemen Gretzky chose to play ahead of healthy veterans Cale Hulse and Sean O'Donnell - made it 2-1 midway through the third period.
Naslund scored his second of the game on a 2-on-1 break 19 seconds later.
The Coyotes got within one again, this time with 43 seconds to play when Oleg Saprykin scored on the power play with Phoenix goalie Curtis Joseph pulled for an extra attacker.
Gretzky, owner of 61 NHL records as a player, always enjoyed success against Vancouver. He scored his first, 200th, 500th and 802nd goals (breaking Gordie Howe's all-time record) against the Canucks.
Cloutier was the biggest reason it didn't continue for Gretzky as a coach.
Cloutier made great saves against Mike Ricci, Saprykin and Tyson Nash early. He saved his best for Boyd Devereaux with six minutes left in the period, sprawling across to get his left toe on a one-timer from Mike Comrie's feed on a 2-on-1.
``Early in the hockey game we had a couple of opportunities to go up 1-0 but Cloutier was really good in the first period,'' said Gretzky, who wasn't the only one making a highly publicized return.
Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi was back after serving a 17-month suspension for his March 8, 2004 blindside attack that left Colorado's Steve Moore with a concussion and broken bones in his neck.
``It was just good to get a win, good to be in the dressing room and fun to be in this atmosphere,'' said Bertuzzi, who received the loudest roars during a raucous introduction and again after setting up Naslund's first goal.
Bertuzzi sprung Naslund for a breakaway with a quick pass at the Coyotes blue line and he beat Joseph with a quick move to his backhand for a 2-0 lead at 7:59.
``I think it was relief to get the first one out of the way and I'm sure it felt good out there because he looked good and now he can just move forward,'' Naslund said of Bertuzzi's return. ``I think we had a decent game. We're not in full stride yet, but Brendan and Todd were skating well.''
Ohlund, playing his first game after missing the entire preseason with back spasms, opened the scoring with a harmless looking wrist shot off the left boards that hit traffic in front and bounced between Joseph's legs.
Joseph finished with 27 saves.
Notes: Coyotes C Petr Nedved left the game with a groin strain in the third period and did not return. ... Coyotes RW Brett Hull wore number 16, but will switch to father Bobby's 9 at a ceremony to un-retire the number before Phoenix's home opener against Minnesota on Saturday. ... Canucks RW Lee Goren played in place of Tyler Bouck, who injured his groin in Tuesday's practice.