Seven months ago on this day, thousands of Phoenix Coyotes fans entered Jobing.com Arena for a regular season game against the New York Islanders. Upon entry, there was nothing out of the ordinary about this night. The Coyotes had lost six of the previous seven games entering the night and were just hoping to stop the bleeding. Enter Shane Doan.
Less than two minutes into the game, Doan put the Coyotes on the board 1-0. Less than two minutes into the 2nd period, Doan scored again, 2-1 Phoenix. This was the 39th time that Doan had scored two goals in an NHL game; he had never scored three. The Coyotes ended the 2nd period with a 4-1 lead making the 3rd period all about the Captain.
Doan had chance after chance throughout the 3rd period but either missed the net or found the pads of Islanders goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. Doan may have had his best scoring chance of the period with just 12 seconds left in the game when he tipped a shot just wide of the net. That was it; it was over. Another two goal game for Doan, another missed chance at a hat trick. Doan remained on the ice to play the final seconds of the game. But just seven seconds later, Ray Whitney gained possession of the puck in the neutral zone and there was still a chance. Whitney dropped the puck to a fore-checking Doan just across the Islanders’ blue line. Doan stopped the puck and winded up for a slap shot. Doan shoots, Doan scores and the buzzer sounds, signaling the end of the period and the game. Doan follows the puck into the net with his eyes and watches it cross the goal line. He looks astonished. Then a huge smile appears across his face. Doan is mobbed by his teammates and the crowd erupts in a way not seen since opening night. He has finally done it! Or did he? The entire arena, sans the Islanders players and staff who left the ice following the goal, waits as the four game officials gather around a headset. That headset is linked to Toronto where the goal will be reviewed. Just a few weeks prior, Washington Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman had his hat trick taken away by the NHL after further review. After what seems like an eternity, referee Rob Martell points to center ice, signifying a good goal. Now it was official, Doan had indeed scored his first and only career NHL hat trick with 1/10th of a second left in the game.
That game would be the first of only three games the Coyotes would win that month. But, it was a very special night for anyone and everyone who has ever followed the Coyotes or Doan. January 7, 2012 will be a night that no Coyotes fan will ever forget.