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Pass-first center Mike Ribeiro reaches 200th goal milestone in win over Penguins

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Known mostly for his charitable efforts at the offensive end of the ice, Phoenix Coyotes center Mike Ribeiro decided to flip the script in a 3-1 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.

Call it the product of longevity or simply having the ability to sustain offensive excellence over a 13-year career, either way Ribeiro added to his already impressive NHL resume with the 200th tally of his career in Saturday night’s opening period.

Moments after the Penguins finished off killing the Coyotes’ first power play opportunity of the night, Ribeiro skated with the puck to the top of the right circle before firing a wrist shot in the direction of Marc-Andre Fleury.

Blocked by Coyotes center Antoine Vermette, who conveniently parked himself in front of the net, Fleury never rendered much of a read on the wrister, as he beat him over the left shoulder.

“It was the end of the power play and our defense came down back door,” Ribeiro said of the situation that led to the goal. “I saw their guy come out of the box, and I didn’t want to force a pass across to [Boedker] and get caught.

“So, I just tried to throw it at the net. It was 5-on-5, so my goal was just to throw one on the net. It looked like it deflected off a stick and went up.”

The goal was also Ribeiro’s 14th of the season. Of the other 186, 123 came as a member of the Dallas Stars (2006-12), 50 came as a member of the Montreal Canadiens (1999-2006) and 13 came as a member of the Washington Capitals (2012-13).

“It’s always nice to score goals,” Ribeiro said. “You can still be 40, and enjoy scoring. I’m sure [Jaromir] Jagr still celebrates after he scores. It’s always fun to score.

“And it’s hard to score in this league, so 200 goals is a big milestone. I’ll take that and be happy with it. Especially for a guy like me who doesn’t shoot a lot, to have 200 is really nice.”

Phoenix moved to 14-6-5 in 2013-14 when Ribeiro records a point, but the 33-year-old wasn’t quite done after his milestone marker.

On Zbynek Michalek’s first goal of the season midway through the second period, Ribeiro was credited with an assist along with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

With the goal and the assist, Ribeiro recorded his 10th multi-point performance of the season.

In the first-year Coyote’s eyes, however, his milestone night and the effort that came along with it will all be for naught if he and his teammates revert back to recent habits during their final three-game stretch before the Olympic break.

“Those next three games before the break are going to be huge for us,” said Ribeiro. “We’re going to play against good teams. Dallas is a good, skilled team and Chicago. I think it’s good to have big teams come in here and give us a challenge. We’re focused for it, and it’s important to get some points in those next three games.”

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