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game recap

Coyotes use early lead to hold off Jets

Arizona scores four first-period goals; Mike Smith gets first win since Dec. 15

by Jerry Brown / Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It's been a long time since the Arizona Coyotes scored four first-period goals, and they needed every one of them to win Friday.

Brendan Perlini scored twice, and Oliver-Ekman Larsson and Radim Vrbata each had three assists in a 4-3 win against the Winnipeg Jets at Gila River Arena.

Peter Holland and Jamie McGinn scored for Arizona (13-22-6), who had four first-period goals for the first time since getting six in a 7-4 win against the Nashville Predators on March 28, 2013. It was the first time the Coyotes scored four goals in any period since the second period of a 5-2 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Dec. 1, 2014.


WATCH: All Jets vs. Coyotes highlights 


"I can't remember the last time we did that, but we have guys that are capable," said Ekman-Larsson, who tied his NHL high for assists in a game. "Now that we know we can do it, we'll have the confidence to keep doing it."

Mike Smith made 34 saves for his first win since Dec. 15 against the Toronto Maple Leafs (3-2 in a shootout). Arizona has won two in a row after a nine-game losing streak and came off its five-day break with some firepower.

"We were a tired team before the break, but that refreshed everybody and we were excited to play again," said Vrbata, who also tied his NHL high for assists in a game. "We had a great first period. In the end it was barely enough, but we'll take it."

Video: WPG@ARI: Smith makes stop, scrambles to keep puck out

Shawn Matthias, Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets (20-22-3), who lost 7-4 to the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday and held a postgame meeting after opening this three-game road trip with their third loss in four games.

"Can we get better performances individually out of people? Yeah," Winnipeg coach Paul Maurice said. "But they didn't quit. They kept competing and fighting to the very end and that means a lot right now."

Connor Hellebuyck allowed three goals on six shots and was pulled 10:41 into the game. Michael Hutchinson made 22 saves in relief.

The Jets got off to a good start when Toby Enstrom's shot-pass deflected off the shin pad of Coyotes defenseman Luke Schenn right to Matthias, who beat Smith at 3:43.

The Coyotes then scored three of their four goals on odd-man rushes.

Perlini, who scored in a 2-1 shootout win against the New York Islanders on Saturday and had a hat trick for the Tucson of the American Hockey League on Tuesday, beat Hellebuyck at 4:49 on Arizona's first shot.

After Holland scored his first goal of the season at 8:26 for a 2-1 lead, McGinn chased Hellebuyck with a redirect at 10:41, and Perlini made it 4-1 at 14:45 by chipping his power-play rebound past Hutchinson.

"Going down to Tucson was a great confidence boost, and I was trying to play the same style up here as I did down there," Perlini said. "We gave up a quick one that kind of woke us up a little bit."

Stuart scored his first goal in 71 games 2:46 into the third period, and Wheeler made it 4-3 on a deflection with 1:30 remaining.


Goal of the game

Perlini had the classic goal-scorer's goal, racing past a Jets defender on the rush and picking the top corner, short side, on Hellebuyck for his first.

Video: WPG@ARI: Perlini snaps a quick shot past Hellebuyck


Save of the game

Smith made a skate save on Wheeler's 6-on-4 rebound try with 55 seconds left in the third period.


Unsung performance of the game

Back after missing a game with a muscle pull, Coyotes center Martin Hanzal played 20:20, won 17 of 25 faceoffs, and was part of a penalty kill that was 2-for-2.


Highlight of the game

Wheeler's deflection of Nikolaj Ehler's shot from the high point with 1:30 left gave the Jets a chance.

Video: WPG@ARI: Wheeler redirects Ehlers' shot past Smith


They said it

"What do you think? Do you think we were just silent in here with the door shut? Obviously, there was a conversation had between us. Obviously, I'm not going to give you anything that was said in this room." -- Jets captain Blake Wheeler when asked if there was a meeting after the game


Need to know

Perlini had 14 goals in 17 in American Hockey League games. … Holland scored his first goal in 33 games (Feb. 20, 2016 for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Philadelphia Flyers). It was his 21st game with Arizona. … Stuart last scored Oct. 13, 2015 against the New York Rangers.


What's next

Jets: At the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday (10 p.m. ET; SN, FS-W, NHL.TV)

Coyotes: Host the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; FS-A+, PRIME, NHL.TV)


Video: Perlini, strong 1st period help Coyotes edge Jets

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