After 1,161 games, Phoenix captain Shane Doan recorded his first NHL "hat trick."
When Doan converted Ray Whitney’s pass into his third goal of the game at 19:59.9 of the final period, that goal gave the 35 year-old native of Halkirk, Alberta his first career “hat trick.” That touched off a wild celebration at the Coyotes bench, and stuck a smile on Doan’s face for what seemed an eternity.
Not only did Doan’s achievement give the Coyotes two important points in the Western Conference, it also established a sense of energy from which players and coaches agree the team can build.
The puck hit the net as the clock struck 0:00 and after a review by officials in the War Room in Toronto, the goal was allowed. That created anxious moments for Doan, his teammates and coaches and prompted coach Dave Tippett to simply say, “geez, let him have it.”
For Doan, he threatened to establish an NHL record with his 39th career two-goal game without a “hat trick,” but his bullet from the left face-off circle flew by Islanders’ net minder Evgeni Nabokov and into the net as time expired. That created a 5-1 win for Phoenix and only the third time this season the Coyotes scored five goals in a game. The five also tied a season-high for most goals by Phoenix in any game this season.
“No, I was not lock to get the third one,” Doan smiled afterward. “In fact, it was kind of embarrassing. Guys took shorter shifts, (Tippett) kept putting me out there, and it looked like I was getting chance after chance.”
As if this game were like bookends, Doan scored early and late to give the Coyotes their first home win in nearly a month when they defeated Edmonton 4-2 on Dec. 15.
First, Doan slammed in his first from left of the net just 1:41 into game and picked up his second early in the middle session. Defenseman Keith Yandle’s pass through the middle caught Doan’s stick and the captain deposited the disc in the net for his second of the game at 1:39.
That set the Coyotes off on an unexpected journey to set up Doan, and all seemed hopeless until Whitney slid to puck to Doan across the Islanders line with goose eggs looming on the clock.
“I looked up and it there was about five seconds remaining when Whitney skated past me,” said Yandle. “I saw the pass and Shane shoot. When it went in, I was so excited it was like we won the seventh game of the Stanley Cup finals.”
Yandle then made a baseball analogy.
“When he had the two, no one really said anything to him,” Yandle added. “It’s like baseball when a pitcher has a no-hitter, and no talks to him. I didn’t say anything.”
After the third goal, the team’s reaction was as overwhelming as it was expected. A mob formed near the Phoenix bench, and players, it seems, would not allow Doan to head for the locker room.
In reality, Doan is the kind of player which eschews headlines and would rather set-up teammates and then skate to the bench. His goals-to-assists ratio is low and for his 1,161 games, Doan has 455 assists to now 373 goals. A leader and consummate team player, Doan continues to command respect among his teammates for his character and guidance.
“This could not happen to a better guy,” said goalie Mike Smith. “He’s a great leader and this was definitely a special movement for a special player.”
Aside from Doan as the center of attention, the Coyotes picked up two critical standings points and head out on another important road trip. With a stop at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers and then games in Detroit and Columbus, Phoenix hopes to build on the excitement of Doan’s accomplishment.
“The two points are huge,” said Tippett. “We hope this can be an energizer and gives momentum as we head back on the road.”
The Coyotes lost defenseman David Schlemko with a lower back injury during the second period of the Islanders game. Tippett said Schlemko will be evaluated before the team opens that three game road trip in New York.
The Coyotes continue to struggle on the power play. Against the Islanders, they were 0-3 with man advantage, and overall remain 29th in the NHL on the power play. Conversely, their penalty killing is better and is 9th in the league.
After the up-coming road trip, the Coyotes return home for seven of their next eight games. That stretch opens with an afternoon game on Martin Luther King Day against Colorado and ends with Detroit on Monday Feb. 6.
EDITOR’S NOTE - Quotes in this story were obtained by the author during post-game interviews following the New York Islanders at Phoenix game, Jan. 7, 2012.