Photo Credit: Chicago Blackhawks & AP Photo/Brian Kersey
Phoenix - Mikael Tellqvist
Chicago - Nikolai Khabibulin
On Sunday afternoon, the Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Mikael Tellqvist turned in a 32-save performance, giving the Coyotes their sixth consecutive win with a 4-2 victory over Chicago.
Both clubs would struggle to find an offensive rhythm through the first four minutes of the opening period as a series of broken plays and defensive efforts saw the Coyotes generate the only shot on goal of the game.
Chicago would shake off the offensive rush at 5:04 of the period when Blackhawk's forward Jeffery Hamilton grabbed a loose puck and made a break for the Phoenix zone. Once inside the zone, Hamilton send a pass over to Tony Salmelainen, who dropped it off for Patrick Sharp, who shot the puck past goaltender Mikael Tellqvist for a 1-0 lead.
Phoenix would come right back at the 'Hawks and just 18-seconds after Sharps tally, Coyotes center Jeremy Roenick evened the score when he broke into the Chicago zone alone, put a move on netminder Nikolai Khabibulin and slid the puck between his legs to tie the game at 1-1. Defenseman Travis Roche recorded the lone assist on Roenick's fifth goal of the season.
The Coyotes would continue to make things happen as they drew the first penalty of the afternoon at 5:56 of the first when Chicago's Duncan Keith was called for hooking, resulting in a Phoenix power play.
Operating with the extra attacker, the Coyotes went to work trying to grab their first lead of the game. With the penalty close to expiring, Phoenix made a final rush into the Chicago zone as Roenick fed a pass over to Mike Zigomanis, who pulled up inside the right face-off circle and blasted a shot past Khabibulin for a 2-1 lead.
Following the power play goal by Zigomanis, the Blackhawks would take a pair of trips to the box courtesy of Colin Frasier (hooking) and Denis Arkhipov (hooking). However, the Chicago penalty-killing unit did a admirable job by keeping the Coyotes from adding to their lead and staying within striking distance.
With just over a minute remaining in the first, Phoenix defenseman Zbynek Michalek was sent to the box for boarding, but the lack-luster power play unit of the Blackhawks was unable to mount a serious offensive threat as the first 20-miuntes of action came to an end with the Coyotes holding a 2-0 advantage.
With Michalek still in the penalty box for 51-seconds to start the second period, the Blackhawks tried desperately to even the score with forward Peter Bondra leading the way with a pair of shots from the offensive zone. However, Tellqvist stood his ground and kept the puck out of the net to keep Phoenix ahead by one.
At 3:49 of the second period, the Coyotes added to their lead when Fredrik Sjostrom's shot beat Khabibulin and found the back of the net for a 3-1 lead. Dave Scatchard recorded the lone assist on Sjostrom's fourth goal of the season.
It appeared that the Coyotes were headed back onto the power play at 4:59 of the second when Tuomo Ruutu hooked Phoenix's Ladislav Nagy to the ice. But after a brief conference by the on-ice officials, Nagy was assessed a diving penalty on the same play resulting in two-minutes of four-on-four hockey.
The one ice from the four-on-four play would fail to yield any changes on the scoreboard as the two clubs returned to full strength with Phoenix leading by two.
At 8:33 of the stanza, Coyotes center Steven Reinprecht received his first penalty of the season when he was called for holding. The 'Hawks put forth their best offensive effort of the period as they rushed the Phoenix net and created offense in the offensive zone. Despite their improved efforts, Chicago would be unable to get the better of Tellqvist, who continued his strong play and preserved the Coyotes 3-1 lead.
Chicago would continue to get into penalty trouble as Radim Vrbata was assessed the Blackhawks fifth hooking penalty of the game at 16:06 of the second. The penalty would prove costly for the Blackhawks when Owen Nolan sent a pass to the front of the net where Reinprecht was able to get a shot off. After Khabibulin made the stop on Reinprecht, Oleg Saprykin was able to sweep in and stuff the rebound past the Chicago netminder and into the net to make it a 4-1 game after two period of play.
The Coyotes power play would have another opportunity to add to their lead at 3:54 of the third period when Chicago forward Tony Salmelainen received a high-sticking penalty.
This time, the Blackhawks penalty-killing unit executed their game plan perfectly as they held the Coyotes without a single shot on goal during the infraction to Salmelainen, allowing Chicago to return to full strength still trailing by three.
At 7:05 of the third, Phoenix forward Georges Laraque headed off the ice and over to the penalty box after taking a roughing call. With 10-seconds remaining on the penalty to Laraque, the Coyotes found themselves on the wrong side of a five-on-three advantage as defenseman Ed Jovanovski was called for cross-checking in front of the Phoenix net.
Chicago would be unable to take full advantage of the two-man advantage, but just five seconds after Laraque exited the box, Blackhawks forward Peter Bondra grabbed a rebound in the slot and roofed a shot over Tellqvist, who was trapped at the left side of the net; and into the Coyotes goal to cut the Phoenix lead to 4-2.
The Phoenix penalty-killing unit faced another tough challenge at 9:42 of the period when Michalek took a high-sticking penalty with 73-seocnds left on the penalty to Jovanovski. Chicago tried to back the Coyotes into their own zone with an aggressive offensive rush, but when the puck did enter the zone, Phoenix was quick to clear the zone, eventually leading to the expiration of both Coyotes penalties.
The Blackhawks offense continued to dominate the play during the final period as the game entered it's final minutes with the Coyotes still unable to register their first shot-on-goal of the period compared to the 13-shots put up by Chicago.
Over the course of the final two minutes of play, Tellqvist withstood a final rush by the 'Hawks and a blistering shot on goal by Patrick Sharp, turning both aside to capture his 32nd save of the game and a 4-2 win over the Blackhawks.