By Jerry Brown | NHL.com Correspondent
GLENDALE -- Not even the NHL's best team could cool off the hottest one.
But at least the Vancouver Canucks can say they denied the Coyotes a point during the month of February. No other team can make that claim after the scorching Coyotes completed their best month ever with a 2-1 shootout win over the League's No. 1 team on Tuesday night at Jobing.com Arena – completing an 11-0-1 month of February that has transformed their season.
The win was Phoenix's sixth in a row following a 2-1 shootout loss at Vancouver on Feb. 13.
Ageless Ray Whitney tied the score with 10:17 left in regulation and teamed with Mikkel Boedker for shootout goals to give Phoenix (33-21-9) its third shootout win in the last four games.
Goalie Mike Smith did the rest with 39 saves, winning an outstanding duel with Vancouver's Cory Schneider as the Coyotes ended a month without a regulation loss for the first time since then-coach Jim Schoenfeld guided the 1998-99 Coyotes to 10 wins and a tie (21 points) in November 1998.
That group went on to set a franchise record with a 14-game unbeaten streak (12-0 with two ties); these Coyotes are at 12 games without a regulation loss and counting, collecting 23 of a possible 24 points during February. The Canucks took the other one, outlasting the Coyotes 2-1 in a six-round shootout in Vancouver on Feb. 13.
"That was a heck of a month by any team's standards," said Whitney, 39, who has 18 points in the last 14 games and at least one point in 13 of them. "We had to earn the (wins) both home and road. We beat some quality teams and getting three out of four points against the team we played tonight is impressive. We realize that if we work hard we can compete with the big boys."
► Click here to watch Whitney's post-game remarks.
The Coyotes entered February as a 12th-place team on the verge of holding a trade deadline fire sale. But they will leave it as Pacific Division leaders, owners of the longest current overall (six) and home (seven) winning streaks in the League. They aren't scheduled to play on Leap Day, but no one will be sadder to see the calendar turn from February to March.
"We have to recognize the things we’ve done well this month to be a good team," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We’ve set a standard for ourselves of what we expect from each other every night, and tonight was no different than that. When you do things right and everybody contributes the way they can you have a good chance at success. We’ve got some momentum, and we rallied around it this month. Tonight was a perfect example of that. I thought everyone in our lineup contributed tonight."
The Canucks, who have had 13 of their last 21 games decided after regulation, are 8-5 in those games. Alexander Elder gave Vancouver a 1-0 lead in the first but Elder and Mason Raymond came up empty in the shootout as Vancouver finished a six-game trip 3-1-2.
The Canucks (40-16-8) have collected points in 17 of their last 18 games (12-1-5) and ended Detroit's NHL-record 23-game home winning streak on Feb. 23. The longest current streak now belongs to Phoenix.
"Considering all the hockey that we've played on the road in February ... this was a challenging trip," Canucks Head Coach Alain Vigneault said. "My mom sent me an e-mail and she said ‘eight points out of 12 isn't bad,' so it can't be that bad."
The first period was pretty even with each team getting 12 shots and two power plays, but the Canucks held a 1-0 lead in fortuitous bounces -- and on the scoreboard.
With Michal Rozsival in the box for hooking Daniel Sedin, Edler's quick shot from the right boards hit two Coyotes -- first Adrian Aucoin's shin pad, then Chris Summers -- changing direction twice and fluttering past a helpless Smith to snap an 0-for-10 power-play drought for the Canucks. It was Vancouver's 68th first-period goal of the season, the most in the NHL.
Photo by Getty Images.
The Coyotes came out firing in the second period, outshooting the Canucks 11-2 over the first 13 minutes. But Schneider, who shad won seven starts in a row, stopped them all.
Vancouver owned the final five minutes of the period, but Smith stood tall and stopped new Canuck Zack Kassian and Raymond with bang-bang pad saves before robbing Daniel Sedin with his glove.
Phoenix kept coming in the third and, after Martin Hanzal hit the post on a partial breakaway, finally broke through. Keith Yandle put a long shot from center ice on net that Schneider blocked down. Whitney outraced the defense, grabbed the rebound and swept a backhander up and over Schneider for his 19th goal of the season.
Smith had the best save of the overtime, robbing Daniel Sedin on a cross-crease pass from brother Henrik in the first minute to keep Phoenix alive.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
Coyotes forward Ray Whitney started the shootout by skating in and snapping a high shot over Canucks goalie Cory Schneider's shoulder and just under the crossbar.
Coyotes forward Mikkel Boedker ended the game by racing in, making a deke and sliding the puck just under Schneider's stick.
"The last two were the same move so I decided I should try something different," said Boedker, who has scored on three of four shootout attempts, two of them against Vancouver.
► Click here to see the KEY MOMENT.
• Forward Ray Whitney extended his point streak to six games. He has notched three goals and four assists in those games. With 19 games to play, Whitney needs just 17 more points to reach 1,000 for his NHL career.
• Goalie Mike Smith upped his winning streak to a career-high and franchise record 11 games. Smith has made 315 saves and allowed just 16 goals during the streak.
• The Coyotes have won seven home games in row - the longest active streak in the NHL.
• Center Martin Hanzal delivered a team-high seven hits, took four shots on goal and won 10 of 16 faceoffs.
• Center Antoine Vermette played in his first home game since being acquired by the Coyotes last week in a trade with Columbus. Vermette logged 17:01 of ice time and took a team-high five shots on goal. He also led the way in the faceoff circles by winning 11 of 17 draws.
• The Coyotes played minus injured forwards Kyle Chipchura (upper-body) and Gilbert Brule (upper-body), and injured defensemen Rostislav Klesla (upper-body) and David Schlemko (lower-body). The Coyotes also played minus defenseman Derek Morris, who has taken a leave of absence because of a family illness. Asked after the game if any of the injured players would return for Thursday's game vs. Calgary, Head Coach Dave Tippett said no.
• The Coyotes' next game is Thursday vs. the Calgary Flames at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).
"We've improved so much as a group and we're just finding ways to win hockey games and tonight was just another instance of that. It was a huge two points against one of the best hockey teams in the League."
"(Mike Smith) has been unbelievable for us, and we have great veteran leadership with (Ray) Whitney and (Radim) Vrbata and (Shane) Doan. The younger guys are just following the older guys."
"This was a frustrating way to end the trip (because) we had a lead going into the third period and we don't close the door. I think we’re a team that does that very well."
• Feb. 13, 2012: VAN 2, PHX 1 (SO)
• March 14, 2012:
• Nov. 25, 2011: VAN 5, PHX 0
• Feb. 28, 2012: PHX 2, VAN 1 (SO)