The Pacific Division is a strong one this season with four teams within two points of each other. And then there are the Ducks. Not even close as a result of a really bad first half of the season.
The Ducks could have put a crimp in Phoenix’s season by defeating them, but instead, the Coyotes demonstrated why they have a good chance at winning the division and doing well in the post season. The Ducks came back home with their tail between their legs after a 4-0 defeat.
It started off well for Anaheim, who got a power play early in the first period. Then Oliver Ekman-Larsson got out of the penalty box, managed to get past the Ducks defense, who seemed to forget the power play was ending. Ekman-Larsson took advantage of his breakaway to put the puck past Jeff Deslauriers at 6:10.
The Ducks and Deslauriers, filling in for Jonas Hiller who would be playing the second of back to back games at home for fan appreciation night, could never recover from that grievous error.
Anaheim was stymied by the Coyotes defense and could get nothing past Mike Smith, who stopped all 44 shots for his second straight shutout.
“It was one of those nights when we weren’t going to beat that guy,” said coach Bruce Boudreau. “When Bobby Ryan beats him and hits [Phoenix center] Boyd Gordon in the back of the head and it bounces over the net, nothing is going to go in.”
In addition to those 44 shots on goal, another 20 were blocked and 13 missed the net altogether. Nope, nothing was going to go in.
The same could not be said for the Coyotes, who had no problem solving Deslauriers.
The Coyotes turned on their power play charm to power past Anaheim. With the extra man, Antoine Vermette made it 2-0 at 11:03 of the second period.
After that, the focus was on Ray Whitney. Whitney, a 19 year veteran in the NHL, scored his 1,000 point by garnering an assist on the third Phoenix goal. The way they were celebrating, it was not Radim Vrbata’s goal at 16:14, it was Whitney’s.
Whitney became only the 79th player to score 1,000 points. He earned point #1001 just :40 seconds later with a goal of his own.
“It hasn’t been overly easy, I’ve had to earn what I’ve done,” said Whitney, who is a month shy of his 40th birthday. “I’ve been on seven teams, I’ve been bought out twice, and I’ve been on waivers a couple of times. There’s been a couple of times where it didn’t look like it was going to go on any further so this is something I’m very proud of.”
Noting another long time veteran on the ice in a Ducks uniform, Whitney continued.
“I looked at the stats and I see I’m 400 points behind (Teemu) Selanne. That kind of puts it in perspective.”
The perspective for the Ducks?
At 4-0, the Ducks were toast.
Yet another reason why the Ducks are not in the post season this year.
The Ducks now turn right around and head home to face the Edmonton Oilers at home for Fan Appreciation night in a game where the points don’t matter for any team.