Wheeler scores in OT, Jets spoil Coyotes’ first game at Mullett Arena

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blake Wheeler scored on a breakaway 32 seconds into overtime, and the Winnipeg Jets rallied for a 3-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes in the first NHL game at Mullett Arena on Friday.

Pierre-Luc Dubois stole the puck from Shayne Gostisbehere and sent a cross-ice pass to Wheeler for his second goal of the season for the Jets (5-3-0), who trailed 2-0 in the first period.

“`Dubie’ made a great play at the blue line and they were caught with a few guys [back]. I just tried to catch him,” Wheeler said.

Mark Scheifele and Cole Perfetti each scored, and David Rittich made 19 saves in his first win for Winnipeg, which won its third in a row following a 6-4 victory against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, when it rallied from a 3-1 deficit.

Jets coach Rick Bowness isn’t on the road trip as he recovers from COVID-19. Associate coach Scott Arniel, who ran the team Friday, switched centers mid-game, moving Dubois onto the top line and Scheifele to the second line. Arniel later went back to his regular lines for the game-winning goal in overtime.

“We again [got] down a couple of goals and just [kept] battling back and staying with it,” Arniel said. “We really took over that game in that second period and our whole bench felt good that we were going to pull that one off.”

Video: WPG@ARI: Dubois sets up Wheeler in overtime

Christian Fischer had two goals for Arizona (2-4-1), and Karel Vejmelka made 32 saves.

“At some point, we were squeezing the stick and we stopped making plays,” Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. “We were making plays at the beginning and then when we got the lead, we stopped making plays with the puck. We [made] a few turnovers and it put us on our heels.”

The Coyotes played their home opener at the brand new Mullett Arena, the on-campus venue at Arizona State University where they will play for at least the next three seasons.

“It was a tough way to end it,” Fischer said. “I thought we deserved better and [Vejmelka] deserved better. There was great energy from the crowd, you could feel it and we fed off it. But we had some penalties … their top guys started getting their touches and they started feeling good.”

Shortly after Vejmelka stopped Axel Jonsson-Fjallby on a 2-on-1 following a takeaway in the Arizona zone, Fischer made it 1-0 at 10:17 of the first. Fischer went hard to the net and Troy Stecher‘s shot from the right point deflected off Fischer’s shoulder and past Rittich.

Fischer scored off a Jack McBain face-off win to make it 2-0 at 15:28.

Video: WPG@ARI: Fischer opens scoring at Mullett Arena

Perfetti scored unassisted at 15:54 to cut it to 2-1, 26 seconds after Fischer’s second goal. Perfetti stole the puck along the boards and wrapped it inside the far post as Vejmelka went down to defend.

“We stuck with it,” Wheeler said. “We played last night in L.A. and we knew those first periods [of a back to back] are always tough. `Ritter’ made some big saves back there for us to keep us in it, and if those games on a back to back are close or [you’re] down a goal, you have a chance to win. That was mission accomplished.”

Scheifele’s sixth goal of the season tied it 2-2 at 8:34 of the third period, a wrist shot from the right circle off the rebound of Wheeler’s one-timer.

The Jets outshot the Coyotes 13-2 in the third.

“We had some breakdowns, but [Vejmelka] kept us in it,” Tourigny said. “He was our best player.”

Winnipeg couldn’t score on a late power play resulting from a Lawson Crouse tripping penalty at 16:44 and was 0-for-5 with the man-advantage. Arizona was 0-for-2.

“We can’t be taking penalties,” Fischer said. “We know that’s going to kill us eventually.”

NOTES: Fischer’s multigoal game was his first since scoring three against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 23, 2018. … Jets forward Kyle Connor has one goal after scoring 47 last season. … Former Coyotes captain Shane Doan and his son, Josh Doan, an Arizona prospect and Arizona State player, shared in dropping the ceremonial first puck. … The Coyotes began a four-game homestand that followed a six-game season-opening road trip. They play 20 of their first 24 games on the road while awaiting completion of a $20 million locker room project. … Arizona forward Clayton Keller‘s five-game point streak ended. … The Coyotes have been outshot 96-47 in the third period.

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