WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP)—A night that started with boos for Winnipeg’s former team ended with a well-deserved standing ovation for the new Jets.
Ondrej Pavelec(notes) made 33 saves in his second shutout of the season, and Bryan Little’s(notes) first-period goal held up as the Jets beat Phoenix 1-0 on Thursday night in the Coyotes’ first game back in Winnipeg since leaving for the desert in 1996.
Some fans showed that hard feelings haven’t died when it comes to the Coyotes, who deserted Winnipeg after the 1995-96 season. The Coyotes were booed when they came on the ice, and that treatment continued every time a Phoenix player had the puck, including captain Shane Doan(notes), one of the last original Jets left in the NHL.
Doan wasn’t surprised he and his teammates were booed.
“They’re a passionate fan base and they love their Jets,” he said.
The Jets gave the fans plenty to cheer about, playing a strong team game against one of the better clubs in the Western Conference.
Pavelec was particularly impressive, rebounding from a shaky performance in Tuesday’s 6-4 loss to Ottawa in which he gave up five goals.
“It’s always important after you don’t play well, especially me, I didn’t feel good in the Ottawa game,” Pavelec said. “It was great I had the chance to play again and bounce back. It’s always a good feeling when you help the team to win.”
Winnipeg (10-11-4), the former Atlanta Thrashers who relocated before this season, snapped a two-game losing streak. After the game, the crowd gave the new Jets a standing ovation and saluted them at center ice as the players raised their sticks.
Smith faced 31 shots as Phoenix (13-8-3) had a two-game winning streak broken. He was out of position on Little’s goal off a rebound at 6:53 of the first period, but was otherwise solid.
Pavelec, making his 22nd start of the season, faced 33 shots. He praised his teammates for limiting the dangerous scoring chances.
“As soon as they crossed the red line they threw the puck on me, and the guys did a great job to (let) me see the puck,” he said.
“Outstanding effort, team effort, and that’s the way we want to play. We had a lot of scoring chances. We deserved to win and it was a great win.”
Doan was a rookie during that last season in Manitoba and is one of only three NHLers still playing from that old squad. The others are Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne(notes) and Edmonton goalie Nikolai Khabibulin(notes).
Doan later got a standing ovation from the sold out crowd of 15,004 after the rink announcer asked fans to recognize his place in Jets history.
“It’s what makes it fun to be in the building,” Doan said. “By all means, as a fan that’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to cheer on your team and make it hard on the other team, and they did a great job.”
However, he was surprised by the ovation he got in the first period.
“What do you say other than thanks,” said Doan, who turned the puck over just before Little scored. “I was very thankful for that.
“That was above and beyond anything they needed to do, but I really appreciated it that fans would do that.”
He even added a joke at his own expense.
“I wasn’t sure if (the ovation) was for me turning the puck over on the first goal and giving it to them or if it was for something else,” he said.
NOTES: C Kyle Turris(notes) made his season debut with the Coyotes following a long contract holdout. He played just under 12 minutes and registered a team-high four shots on goal. … Phoenix couldn’t get even despite outshooting the Jets 16-9 in the second period and holding a 27-19 edge in shots after 40 minutes. … The game had only five penalties. Winnipeg was 0-for-3 on the power play, and Phoenix finished 0-for-2. … Winnipeg will host New Jersey on Saturday, while the Coyotes will face Philadelphia in Arizona.