GLENDALE, Ariz. – By his own account, Ray Whitney has been written off at least twice. And that makes reaching the 900-point plateau all that much sweeter.
Whitney scored two goals and added an assist to help the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Anaheim Ducks 6-2 on Saturday night.
“I’m proud to be there,” said Whitney, who reached the milestone on his first-period goal. “That’s a lot of points for a guy who a couple of times in his career wasn’t supposed to be playing the game anymore.”
Whitney said he was congratulated by Ducks right wing and prolific scorer Teemu Selanne who, Whitney said, “probably had 900 in his first nine seasons.”
Now in his 19th NHL season, Whitney has logged 334 goals and 568 assists in 1,115 career games.
“He’s smart,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “He does things that are smart on the ice and that allows him to use his talents to his greatest advantage.”
Lee Stempniak had a goal and two assists, Adrian Aucoin and Sami Lepisto each added a goal and an assist, and Taylor Pyatt also scored for the Coyotes, who won their fourth straight. Phoenix is 6-0-2 in its past eight and has risen from 11th place to fourth in the Western Conference.
The Coyotes have scored 31 goals in their past eight games after managing only four in the four games prior to the current streak.
“We’re not just scoring some goals but we’re scoring some nice goals,” Tippett said.
Phoenix was without defenceman Ed Jovanovski, who sustained an undisclosed lower-body injury on a hit from Toronto’s Mike Brown on Thursday.
Matt Beleskey and Corey Perry scored for the Ducks, whose three-game winning streak was snapped. Anaheim has lost only twice in eight games.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle tried just about everything to spark his team, calling his timeout early in the second period and juggling his lines to shake things up further.
“And the first line I juggled got scored on,” Carlyle said. “It was just one of those nights. I don’t have an explanation for it but we have to find one in a hurry.”
Whitney gave the Coyotes a 1-0 lead with a one-timer from between the circles at 7:35 of the first period—his 900th NHL point. Beleskey tied it at 9:18 with a shot from just above the right circle.
The Coyotes dominated the rest of the way.
Aucoin gave Phoenix the lead for good 31 seconds into the second period with a rising drive from the top of the right circle. Pyatt made it 3-1 at 12:29 when he redirected Keith Yandle’s shot from the high slot past Jonas Hiller.
Lepisto extended the lead to 3-1, taking a pass from Whitney on a 2-on-1 rush and putting a shot into the vacated left side of the net at 18:19 of the period.
That ended the night for Hiller, who allowed the four goals on 26 shots.
“What I told the team is we weren’t getting involved,” Carlyle said. “We weren’t offering all that much resistance.”
Whitney got his second at 7:01 of the third, beating Curtis McElhinney from the low slot, and Stempniak capped the scoring with 4:01 to play.
NOTES: Anaheim outscored its opponents 14-4 in the three games before Saturday. … Phoenix RW Radim Vrbata had two assists to give him 300 points in his career. Coyotes C Vernon Fiddler went to the dressing room after a fight with Beleskey less than 2 minutes into the third. Yandle slashed Perry across the right hand in front of the Phoenix net, and Perry responded moments later by shoving Yandle to the ice immediately before Fiddler and Beleskey squared off. … Yandle took stitches to his left eye after being high-sticked by Selanne in the first period.