– Ray Whitney
had just scored his 900th NHL point with a first-period goal when Anaheim Hall of Famer-to-be Teemu Selanne - one point from 1,300 himself - skated up to him for the faceoff and offered congratulations.
"I think Teemu had 900 in his first nine seasons, so it took me a little longer to get there," said the 38-year-old Whitney, now in his 19th NHL season. "But that's a lot of points for a guy who a couple of times in his career wasn't supposed to be playing anymore. It's a high number and I'm proud of it."
Whitney began his countdown to 1,000 points with a second goal and an assist as the Coyotes won their fourth straight and ran their points streak to eight games with a 6-2 romp over the Ducks on Saturday night. Adrian Aucoin, Taylor Pyatt and Sami Lepisto all scored during a dominant second period for a Phoenix offense that has scored at least four times in the last four games - 19 goals in all.
"I knew how many (points) I needed in these last two years of my contract to get to 1,000 points and it's not unrealistic," said Whitney, who has 334 goals and 568 assists in 1,115 career games. "All I have to do is keep the pace of what I've been doing the last five years to get there. Body willing, health-wise, I'd like to get there."
Lee Stempniak added a goal and a pair of assists, Lepisto had a goal and an assist and Radim Vrbata collected his 300th NHL point with two assists for the Coyotes, who have yet to lose in regulation in January (6-0-2) and have leaped from 13th place to fourth in the Western Conference by collecting 14 of 16 possible points this month.
"We're not just scoring some goals, we're scoring some nice goals," said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett, usually not one for style points. "This was a good, quality team effort against a team in our division who has been very hot. There were a lot of things on the line for us.
Matt Beleskey and Bobby Ryan scored for the Ducks, who had won six of seven since beating the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on Dec. 28 and had outscored their opponents 14-4 in the last three games.
But Saturday was another story. During the second period alone, Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle tried everything: He called a timeout and ripped into his team after the first goal, juggled his forward lines after the second goal and pulled goalie Jonas Hiller - who had two shutouts and had stopped 94 of 98 shots in the last three games - after Lepisto finished off a 2-on-1 break and scored with 1:41 left for a 4-1 lead.
"The first line I juggled got scored on," Carlyle said, shaking his head. "It was just one of those nights. It's disappointing and we don't have an explanation for it. We need to find one in a hurry, because we know in the Western Conference you can't let games like this take you in another direction."
Pyatt wound up with the game-winning goal for Phoenix, his third in the last seven games -- he has 5 goals and 7 points in that span - and his team-leading fifth overall. Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had 26 saves against his old team, but Whitney and the Phoenix offense were the story.
The Coyotes had 13 first-period shots and broke on top when Vrbata's centering pass found Whitney between the circles for a one-timer at 7:35.
The Ducks needed just 1:43 to tie it when Ryan won a battle with two Coyotes along the boards and slid the puck to a waiting Beleskey in the slot. Beleskey caught Bryzgalov sliding to the right and put the puck low to the short side for his third goal.
But the Coyotes took over from there, scoring four unanswered goals, chasing Hiller and beating the Ducks on home ice for the first time in three tries this season.
Whitney and Stempniak sandwiched third-period goals around a power-play tally by Corey Perry, his 22nd goal of the season.
"We just stopped playing in the offensive zone," Perry said. "If you look at the previous five, six, seven games and what we were doing right, we were getting the puck in on the forecheck. Tonight, we didn't have a forecheck. In this league, if you don't have a forecheck, you're not going to get the puck back.
The Coyotes, already without defensemen Ed Jovanovski (lower body) and newly acquired Michal Rozsival (abdominal muscle), lost center Vernon Fiddler in the third period when he appeared to injure his shoulder in a fight with Beleskey. They also had a real scare in the first period when leading scorer Keith Yandle took a high stick in the eye, cutting his eyelid.
"It was one of those things where I lost vision for a couple of seconds," Yandle said. " It's pretty scary, especially when I have the visor on. I'm lucky it wasn't more serious."
Thursday's 5-1 win over Toronto was the 1,000th win in the history of the Phoenix/Winnipeg franchise. The Jets had 506 wins and the Coyotes now have 495 after Saturday. The franchise is 1,001-1,118-275-55 in its 2,449 NHL games.