A new era of Phoenix Coyotes began on Thursday night. The perpetual uncertainty was cast away when the NHL sold the franchise to Ice Arizona this past summer and now the Coyotes have a foundation, a true home. A sellout crowd of 17,125 patrons came to Jobing.com Arena, in Glendale, AZ and saw their Coyotes knock off the visiting New York Rangers 4-1. The crowd was electric and the Coyotes fed off that energy in the season opener.
"The emotions that we felt in the building, it brought back memories of the (2012 Stanley Cup Western) Conference Finals," Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. "The games there and how electric this building was. Hopefully it will be like that for the remainder of the season. What a way to start."
Phoenix was led by forward Radim Vrbata who tallied his second career hat trick after scoring one goal in the second period and a two more in third period. It was Vrbata's second straight game with a hat trick. He also scored three-goals during the final game of the 2012-13 season.
"We'll be alright if he (Vrbata) only got one next game and not three," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett joked after the game. "We can work with that. Vrbata has been a very good player for us. He's a guy when he gets opportunities he can score and you could see that tonight."
The Coyotes signed goalie Mike Smith to a six-year contract extension, valued at approximately $5.7 million a year, this past off-season and he rewarded the team's faith in his abilities by stopping 23 of 24-shots.
"Smitty (Mike Smith) looked pretty good," Tippett said. "He was solid in the net and solid outside the net."
Phoenix was energized by their fans at Jobing.com Arena on Thursday but the open road beckons. The Coyotes convoy hits the road for the next 10-days, with five games in that stretch. Their first stop is San Jose to take on the Sharks on Saturday, October 5th. The puck is scheduled to drop at 7 p.m. (PT)
"The crowd was electric and we just fed off it," Vrbata said. "It was a good start and a pretty good game overall. Now we have a couple of games in a row and we wanted to start strong at home and then take it on the road."