By: Chad Lynch
Photo Credit: Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel
& AP Photo/Brian Kersey
On Sunday, the Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-2 at the United Center.
In the opening period, the Blackhawks showed the early momentum as at shot at three-minute mark beat goaltender Curtis Joseph and rang off the goal post. Just seconds later, Chicago had another chance when a Blackhawk forward was left alone at the top of the crease, but Joseph was able to poke-check the puck away.
Following Joseph's poke-check save, the Coyotes brought the puck back up ice and into the offensive zone. Mike Johnson carried the puck across the blue line before feeding a pass over to Boyd Devereaux, who gave the puck to Paul Mara coming through the slot. Mara fanned on his first shot on goal, but was able to take a second swipe at the puck, which proved valuable as he beat Chicago netminder Nikolai Khabibulin at 4:42 of the first for a 1-0 Phoenix lead.
With 8:49 to play in the first, the Blackhawks were able to tie the score at 1-1 when Chicago's Curtis Brown tipped a puck at the top of the crease, through the legs of Joseph for his fourth goal of the season.
Chicago nearly took their first lead of the game with 3:14 left in the first when the Blackhawks, while killing off a penalty to Dustin Byfuglien (interference) applied pressure on the Coyotes as they chased a puck back into their zone and defenseman Paul Mara lost his footing at the blue line, allowing Chicago's Mark Cullen to skate in and fire a point blank shot at the net, but "Cujo" was able to make the stop and keep the game tied.
Dave Scatchard took the Coyotes first penalty of the game at 17:49 of the opening period when he was called for holding. On the power play, Chicago had a series of quality scoring chances from close range, but once again, Joseph held the fort and kept the puck out of the net as the penalty expired and the first intermission arrived with the Coyotes and Blackhawks tied at 1-1.
Early in the second period, Phoenix went back on the power play as the Blackhawks Patrick Sharp was sent to the box for hooking the Coyotes Shane Doan in front of the Chicago net. However, with just 48-seconds gone by in the Coyotes power play, Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris took a penalty for tripping, thereby wiping out the Coyotes man-advantage.
With 12:23 to play in the second period, a strange set of events took pace in front of the Chicago net as Tyson Nash was getting high-sticked to the face, causing him to inadvertently catch his stick on the mask of Khabibulin. After knocking the mask of the Chicago netminder, Khabibulin took a shot at Nash resulting in a scrum behind the net. After things were settled, the Coyotes came out with a two-minute power play. But just seconds into the man-advantage, play was evened up when Dave Scatchard was sent to the box at 8:25 for holding. However, the four-on-four play would last just 20 seconds as Chicago's Kyle Calder was sent to the box at 8:45 for hooking, resulting in another power play for the Coyotes. This time, Phoenix wouldn't let the advantage of the extra attacker slip by as Mike Comrie pounced on a loose puck at the left side of the net and fired it past Khabibulin at 9:11 of the second period for his 23rd goal of the year and giving the Coyotes a 2-1 lead.
The Coyotes went back on the power play at 12:24 of the period when Mike Comrie was breaking into the Chicago zone and was tripped to the ice by the Blackhawks Duncan Keith to prevent an uncontested scoring opportunity. On the man-advantage, the Coyotes were able to get some good pressure on the Khabibulin, but were unable to add to their lead as Keith returned to the ice putting the 'Hawks back at full strength.
Coyotes captain Shane Doan took matters into his own hands at 16:44 of the second when he ripped a slap shot that went off the glove of Khabibulin and into the net for his 24th goal of the season, giving the Coyotes a 3-1 lead.
The final minutes of the period expired without incident as the Coyotes took a 3-1 lead into the locker room after 40 minutes of play.
Through the firs four minutes of the final period, neither team was able to generate much in the way of offense as the clubs traded minor penalties and spent the majority of the time in the neutral zone.
Even when Coyotes center Mike Ricci was called for hooking at 7:28 of the third, the Blackhawks had almost no success in penetrating the penalty-killing unit of the Coyotes as Phoenix held on to the 3-1 lead.
The Coyotes Boyd Devereaux nearly extended the Phoenix lead to three-goals 9:23 to play as he followed up a rebound at the top of the Coyotes crease, but Khabibulin was able to get back into position and make a huge stop on the shot, holding the Chicago deficit to two goals.
Just when it looked like the Coyotes were in charge of the game, Chicago's Mark Cullen scored his sixth goal of the year with just over three minutes left in regulation to close the gap to 3-2.
For the remainder of the game, the 'Hawks pulled out all the stops to try and tie the score, including sending Khabibulin to the bench with a minute to play in favor of an extra attacker, but Chicago never was able to get enough pressure on Joseph to achieve a third goal as the Coyotes held on for a 3-2 victory.
TPS SUPPORTS BREAST CANCER RESEARCH
TPS Hockey and Frameworth have joined forces to help with the fight against breast cancer. From March 20, 2006 to March 30, 2006, Frameworth Sports Marketing will be auctioning off over 300 NHL game-used exclusively made TBS "Breast Cancer Research" hockey sticks with proceeds going to breast cancer research. In addition, each one of these unique, one-of-a-kind sticks will be hand signed by its player.
NHL players used the TPS designed "pink stick" during practices, pre-game warm-ups and regular season games throughout the March 17-19 weekend.
Phoenix Coyotes players that used the TPS "pink sticks" in Sunday's game against Chicago were Keith Ballard, Derek Morris, Mike Comrie and Oleg Saprykin. Geoff Sanderson, Fredrik Sjostrom and Jamie Rivers used the TPS "pink sticks" in Sunday's pre-game warm-ups.
To bid on one of the TPS "Breast Cancer Research" sticks, click here.