GLENDALE, Ariz. – Olli Jokinen didn’t need much time to make an impression with his new team.
He had a first-period goal and assist in his Phoenix debut Saturday night and the Coyotes went on to win their season opener, 3-1 over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Coyotes’ Keith Yandle scored the most spectacular goal of the night, a slapshot from just inside the blue-line for Phoenix’s third goal with 13:16 left in the second period.
Peter Mueller had the other goal for the Coyotes.
Phoenix acquired Jokinen from Florida for Keith Ballard, Nick Boynton and a second-round pick on the second day of the draft, looking for veteran leadership for a young team.
“We came out flying,” Jokinen said. “We had a lot of energy out there. A lot of guys were playing their first game, and almost the whole first period was good hockey for us.”
The Finnish centre scored the Coyotes’ first goal 12 seconds after he stepped out of the penalty box, where he had served two minutes for hooking.
He took a pass from 19-year-old Kyle Turris near the top of the left circle on a power play and wristed a shot past Columbus goalie Pascal Leclair just over six minutes into the game for his 209th career goal.
Jokinen praised the youngster’s play.
“It looked like the guy’s been in the league for 10 years,” Jokinen said, “and that was his fourth game.”
Phoenix scored on another power play to make it 2-0, Jokinen passing to Mueller, who scored from the left point with 1:47 to go in the first.
Columbus couldn’t recover from eight first-period penalties.
“You can’t take penalties on the road like we did,” coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We constantly dug ourselves into a hole. I thought we came alive in the second period, but their third goal was a killer.”
The Blue Jackets’ Rick Nash screened Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov to clear the way for Derick Brassard’s goal that cut it to 2-1 with 15:50 left in the second.
Columbus was without centre Michael Peca, who was suspended indefinitely for making contact with an official in Columbus’ season-opening 5-4 overtime victory in Dallas on Friday night. Peca is appealing the suspension.
“He is such a big player for us and has tons of experience in the locker room and on the ice,” Nash said. “But we also have guys that can step up and play.”
Nash missed consecutive breakaway shots early in the second period for Columbus.
He praised Bryzgalov’s defence, to a point.
“He came out and cut angles, but I also missed,” Nash said. “I had opportunities and missed the net.”
Two referees were needed to stop a fight between Phoenix’s Daniel Winnick and Columbus’ Derek Dorsett with just under six minutes left in the first period. Each drew seven minutes in penalties. Winnick, judged by the officials to be the instigator, also got a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
“He jumped in for his teammate,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “We’re not going to back down. There’s no question about that.”
Winnick left the game with a bloody face with just over three minutes to go. Replays showed he was hit in the face with a stick, but no penalty was called. Dorsett also got into a scuffle with Yandle with 2 1/2 minutes to go.
Columbus’ Jiri Novotny left with an apparent shoulder injury after being slammed into the boards by Shane Doan with eight minutes left in the game.
Notes: Jokinen played in his 377th consecutive game, the NHL’s second-longest active streak behind Andrew Brunette of Minnesota at 453. … Columbus won both of its games in Phoenix last season. … The Coyotes play their next four on the road. … The Blue Jackets are at San Jose on Tuesday, then play their home opener against Nashville on Friday.