The Coyotes look to start a season with back-to-back wins for the first time since 2003 as they host a Bruins team looking to snap a seven-game losing streak on Saturday.
Phoenix (1-0-0) retooled in the offseason, hiring Don Maloney as its general manager and adding a trio of rookie forwards. The moves looked good on Thursday, when rookie Daniel Winnik’s first NHL goal stood as the game-winner in a 3-2 victory over St. Louis in the season opener.
Rookie Martin Hanzal assisted on Winnik’s goal, which gave the Coyotes a 3-0 lead at the 7:30 mark in the third period. The Coyotes were sloppy in the closing minutes of the game, but held on to win their second straight season opener.
“We’re a young team, and it was exciting for the players and the fans,” coach Wayne Gretzky said. “We made some mistakes in the last 10 minutes, and there’s going to be times when things are going to happen. All in all, our effort is always going to be there.”
Winnik, Hanzal and fellow rookie Peter Mueller each played at least 10 minutes, and they figure to be key players in the Phoenix offense.
“We need all the young playing every night,” said captain Shane Doan, who assisted on Keith Ballard’s goal in the second period. “These guys, like Peter Mueller, Hanzal, Winnik, will get minutes on the power play and chances in every situation.”
Unlike last season, the Coyotes are hoping to follow through with their strong start. They beat the New York Islanders 6-3 in their opener last year, but dropped eight of their next nine contests en route to a 31-46-5 record and a last-place finish in the Pacific Division.
The Bruins (0-1-0) also finished in last place in 2006-07, losing their last six games to cap a 35-41-6 season at the bottom of the Northeast Division.
Boston wasn’t able to snap the skid on Friday, when it opened this season with a 4-1 loss at Dallas. The Bruins haven’t won a season opener since 2001, going 0-4-1 in that stretch.
After Boston fell behind 2-0, two separate fights broke out leading to multiple penalties for both teams. The Bruins, though, converted on only one of their six power play opportunities in the game.
“We started really well, but we made a couple of costly mistakes and we paid for it,” new coach Claude Julien said. “Losing a game is one thing, but beating yourself is another thing. … We need to get our noses dirty in those tough areas.”
Saturday’s game will be the second of five straight on the road for the Bruins, who won’t play at home until Oct. 18 against Tampa Bay. The trip includes visits to defending champion Anaheim and San Jose, which tied for the Western Conference lead with 51 wins last year.
The Bruins and the Coyotes didn’t face each other last season and haven’t met since Phoenix’s 2-1 overtime win in Boston on Dec. 11, 2005.