It might take you a while to get to Andrew Cogliano, but it didn't take the former Michigan Wolverine long to get to Phoenix goalie Mike Smith.
He beat Smith three times in a 6:51 span of the second period – with each goal more curious than the last -- for his first hat trick in 376 NHL games as the Ducks beat the frustrated Coyotes 4-1 for their ninth victory in 11 games.
"I've never been through a stretch like that before," said Cogliano, who came into the game with eight goals all season and none since Jan. 8. "Once in junior, I think I scored four goals in one game. My goal for the end of the season is playing a big role in helping the team. I want to shoot more and have an impact.
Cogliano recorded the fifth natural hat trick and the second-fastest in Anaheim history. Ryan, who has two of them, collected a trio in a two-minute, 21-second blur over two periods against on Jan. 8, 2009, in Los Angeles. Cogliano is also the fourth Duck ever to score three times in the same period.
"It's not like (Alex) Ovechkin or someone who's had several in their day where they are sort of ho-hum," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "For someone who hasn't had one before, it's a tremendous feat. It's a pretty cool thing."
But even Boudreau admitted the film of Cogliano's big night isn't likely to reach the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"Goal are goals … but it might have been the ugliest hat trick I've ever seen," he said. "(As a former player) after the second one went in: I'm shooting everything I see. ‘Give me the puck, I'm shooting it from my own zone because you don't know what's going to happen.' You're just praying to God the stick doesn't break.
Fingers are crossed all over. The Ducks are 9-1-1 in their last 11 games after a miserable 10-22-6 start and have beaten the Coyotes three straight times by a combined 14-4 margin. Selanne added an empty-net goal with 1:06 left, but much like their 6-2 win in Anaheim on Jan. 18 it was the Ducks' foot soldiers and not their superstars who did the damage.
"Eventually, the Getzlaf line and the Koivu line won't go too long without a breakout game," Boudreau said. "So when you can win when they aren't putting points in the board, it's a massive advantage for us. That third line and the fourth line have been great during this run."
The Coyotes had been 13-1-2 when leading after one period this season, but coughed up an early lead and dropped to 10-10-4 on home ice this season, including 1-2-1 during a six-game homestand that they hoped would propel them back in the playoff hunt. Now they have the red-hot Ducks, still seven points back but flying high, in their rear-view mirror as well.
"We had control of the game early and we let it get away," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "We never capitalized on our opportunities."
Ray Whitney gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead with his 16th goal in the first period -- and with Phoenix down 3-1, he found the net again 26 seconds into the third period at the end of a 5-on-3 Phoenix power play. But the goal was washed out by an in-the-crease call against teammate Martin Hanzal.
Replays showed the edges of Hanzal's skates in the blue paint but no contact between Hanzal and Anaheim goalie Jonas Hiller – leaving coach Dave Tippett livid behind the Phoenix bench.
"When both teams are amazed the call is being made, you wonder about it," Tippett said. "There is no contact with the goalie whatsoever. Hanzal's on the edge of the crease … you could probably find five goals in the League like that that would be called goals. Unfortunately that one got called back."
Hiller sided with referee Dan O'Halloran. "On the shot, (Hanzal) stretched his leg back which caught my pad so I couldn't move my pad. I think that's what the referee saw," Hiller said. "They aren't calling that every night … but we got a break there."
In between Whitney's two shots, it was all Cogliano – with a little help from a rocky second-period sequence from Smith.
It started at 6:59 when Smith left his crease and beat Matt Beleskey to a puck behind the net. Smith gave way to Phoenix defenseman Chris Summers, feeling he could take over the play. But Beleskey quickly won the puck and centered to Cogliano, unmarked by Daymond Langkow, for an easy tying goal before Smith could scramble back.
Just 3:08 later, Nick Bonino sent Cogliano down the left wing for an innocent-looking shot from 25 feet. But the puck found a hole underneath Smith's right armpit and dropped into the net to give Anaheim its first lead.
"I obviously caught Smith off-guard," Cogliano said. "Those probably won't go in every night."
Neither will the capper. At 13:50, Lubomir Visnovsky turned a play around in the neutral zone and Bonino flipped a pass ahead to Cogliano, who rattled a change-of-pace backhand between the frustrated Smith's pads to complete his hat trick and give the Ducks a two-goal cushion.
Jason LaBarbera replaced Smith and restored order, but the Ducks had all the offense they needed to keep their January momentum going.
"We have to be this good for the last 50 games we've put ourselves in such a hole," Boudreau said. "It's one day and one game at a time."
1 - 0 PHX
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 ANA
3 - 1 ANA
PPG - EN -
4 - 1 ANA