GLENDALE, Ariz. --
The Phoenix Coyotes
advertising slogan for this season is "Hockey the Hard Way," and there is no better description for captain Shane Doan
's 16-year march to 300 career goals.
Steady and sturdy, consistent but unspectacular, Doan has done it the hard way.
Off to an uncharacteristically fast start offensively, Doan scored his third goal of the season and No. 299 of his career into an empty net to cap Thursday's 5-2 win in Nashville. With five points in three games, he opened the season with two goals in a 6-3 loss in San Jose, the 38th time he's scored twice in an NHL game.
It's also the most he's ever scored in a game since entering the NHL in 1995. Doan has never had an NHL hat trick. Yup, not a single one.
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Doan's 38 two-goal games ties him with Petr Sykora for the most ever by any NHL player without seeing hats hit the ice in his honor. If he scores Saturday night in Phoenix's home opener against Winnipeg -- where he started his NHL career as a 19-year-old in 1995 -- he will join Scott Mellanby
as the only NHL players to reach 300 goals without getting at least three in a game.
"You have the most goals involving anything in the NHL, that's pretty cool to be part of whatever it is," said Doan, who takes plenty of ribbing from his teammates for the inglorious honor but also has the entire room pulling for him when he whips up an early two-goal game. "Now it's to the point where if I get a hat trick, I might wind up losing a record, right?
"It's weird, and it really used to bother me. Going back 100 or 150 goals, I would get two and I was thinking, ‘Hey, this is awful, why can't I get a hat trick?' Now, it's more fun to be unique. If I have two goals and we win, we have fun with it in the room. If I get two and we lose, I'm kind of glad I didn't get three because I don't want that first one to come when we can't celebrate with two points."
Doan ranks third on the Jets/Coyotes all-time franchise scoring list behind Dale Hawerchuk
(379) and Keith Tkachuk
Those same players also rank 1-2 in most hat tricks. But while four Coyotes collected hat tricks in the first 17 games last season -- including Vernon Fiddler
, who had six goals all season, and defenseman Ed Jovanovski
(five goals) Doan had a two-goal game, then another, then another...
"Last year I had two goals after two periods against L.A. (a 6-3 win on Dec. 29) and I went for it," Doan said. "I had six shots in the third period. I was just ripping it from everywhere. I hit a post, one puck went through the goalie's legs and out the other side … it was comical. The next game, I got two in St. Louis and couldn't get anything going and we lost.
"That's more my usual -- I get two goals and then I just star playing horrible. It must be the adrenaline."
His next chance to record a hat trick, not to mention career goal No. 300, comes Saturday against the Jets. It would be quite a story if Doan hits the milestone against Winnipeg -- he is the last member of the Coyotes who played for the original Jets before they moved to Phoenix.
"A surreal moment," Doan told The Globe and Mail. "It was the team that gave me the incredible opportunity to play my first NHL game. I don't take that lightly."
Doan does have one recent hat trick to his credit. In the 2007 World Championship, Doan scored three times in a seven-minute span for Team Canada. "Yeah, you ask fans over there and they think I'm Wayne Gretzky
," he said, smiling.
"You have the most goals involving anything in the NHL, that's pretty cool to be part of whatever it is. Now it's to the point where if I get a hat trick, I might wind up losing a record, right?"
-- Shane Doan
Phoenix coach Dave Tippett
said getting to 300 goals this way is a perfect tribute to his constant example as a player and a leader. "Shane takes the responsibility on himself. He leads by example and that means never getting too high or low but leading the way. He's carried this franchise at times, and he's done it with consistency."
His teammates, well aware of Doan's search for hockey's holy trinity, switch to "Get Doan a goal mode" during comfortable wins when other achievements are safe to pursue.
"I remember one game where the goalie was pulled and he had no one between him and the net -- but he decided to shoot from center ice and missed the net by three feet," said defenseman and close friend Keith Yandle
. "It was like, ‘just skate it down there and stuff it in, dopey.'
"When he gets two goals, you can see that look in his eyes, He get excited and a little jumpy. He wants it, trust me. But I have a feeling this is going to be his year. He's off to a good start and I think that big game is just around the corner."
Indeed, Mellanby finally got his -- he scored four power-play goals on four shots for St. Louis in March 2003. Doan remembers it vividly, because he was there as the Blues beat the Coyotes.
"When it happens, I hope it happens just like it did for him," Doan said. "Four goals and a game-winner. If you're gonna lose your claim to fame, it better be for a night to remember."