- Associated Press - Friday, February 28, 2014

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) - Blake Wheeler was ready to go after the Olympic break, and so were his Winnipeg Jets.

Wheeler and Bryan Little scored in regulation, and Olli Jokinen had the shootout winner as the Jets edged the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 on Thursday night.

Winnipeg improved to 10-3-1 since Paul Maurice replaced the fired Claude Noel as coach.

“A vast percentage of the league is going to be pretty rested after a 2 1/2-week break,” said Wheeler, who played for the United States in Sochi, but saw limited minutes as the Americans’ 13th forward. “I think it’s an all-out sprint.

“There’s no time to be tired.”

Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Martin Hanzal scored for Phoenix in the first game for both teams after a 19-day break for the Olympics.

Devin Setoguchi also beat Coyotes goalie Mike Smith in the shootout, while Antoine Vermette was the only Coyote to solve Ondrej Pavelec.

Despite some less-than-crisp play, Maurice was pleasantly surprised by how well his team played after such a long layoff.

“It was tough at times,” Maurice said, “but just from the stuff I watched the last two days (around the league), it was a better game than I thought I was going to see.”

Winnipeg pulled within one point of the Coyotes as both teams chase a wild-card playoff spot, although Phoenix has two games in hand. Dallas sits in the final spot with 66 points, one better than Phoenix and Vancouver, and two ahead of Winnipeg.

Pavelec made 34 saves for the Jets, with two of his toughest stops coming in overtime.

“It wasn’t an easy game for both teams. It was the first game back and we didn’t know what to expect a little bit,” said Pavelec, who stopped Mike Ribeiro to end the shootout.

Smith stopped 27 shots for the visitors, including a pair of scoring chances in the final seconds of regulation.

“For the most part, I felt not too bad,” said Smith, who was a member of Canada’s gold medal-winning team in Sochi but didn’t see any playing time. “But like I said, it doesn’t matter how you feel, you need to come out on the better side of things.”

Hanzal put away a rebound to tie the game at 2 with Jets center Jim Slater in the penalty box 6:40 into the third period.

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