He's called the Wizard. At 14:04 of overtime in Game 1 between the Nashville Predators and his Phoenix Coyotes, Ray Whitney pulled off a hell of a trick:
With 5:58 left in overtime, Phoenix earned only its third faceoff in the attacking zone in overtime after an icing. Martin Hanzal and Mike Fisher lined up in the dot to Pekka Rinne's left. Hanzal won the draw on a bouncing puck, and then moved it to the middle where Whitney made a tremendous play to control it and put it past Rinne.
Was it a set play?
"Not really," Whitney said on NBCSN after the game. "I just kinda saw the way Marty's body was positioned. I held for a second and saw him go through, and figured I'd just go hard to the net. We will take that for sure."
It was the sixth OT game of the playoffs for Phoenix, having now gone 4-2. The Coyotes also bucked the trends of a postseason that's seen 17 of 49 games go to OT: The road team had won 12 of 16 games, and the average length of OT was 8:17.
Any notion that this series between two solid defensive teams would be a snooze was dispelled in Game 1. There was end to end action; great individual efforts, like Mikkel Boedker's snipe on a 2-on-1 in the second period; and chaotic goals, like the one scored by Brandon Yip in the first period on a carom off the boards.
The Coyotes again gave up a lead in the third period to force overtime, as Martin Erat scored a power-play goal at 15:18. The Coyotes were outshot 16-1 in the third and 9-6 in overtime. Mike Smith, despite a couple of miscues, was the difference, including a glove save on an open Shea Weber slap shot in overtime.
But in the end, it was Ray Whitney scoring his second OT game-winner of his career … even if it wasn't as dramatic as the first one, 17 years ago in Game 7 against the Calgary Flames for San Jose:
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Phoenix Coyotes
- Ray Whitney
- Nashville Predators
- Martin Hanzal
- Pekka Rinne