Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Ladislav Nagy - (C) Yanic Perreault - (RW) Fredrik Sjostrom
(D) Derek Morris - (D) Keith Ballard
BLACKHAWKS STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Michael Holmqvist - (C) Tuomo Ruutu - (RW) Radim Vrbata
(D) Lasse Kukkonen - (D) Jim Vandermeer
Phoenix - Curtis Joseph
Chicago - Brian Boucher
On Thursday night, the Phoenix Coyotes posted a thrilling 3-2 shootout win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.
The Coyotes laid the groundwork the game in the opening minutes as they brought a physical style of play into the Chicago zone, leading to a series of turnovers by the Blackhawks. Phoenix would convert the turnovers into shots-on-goal, but former Coyotes and current Hawks netminder Brian Boucher made the early saves against his former club.
Phoenix's offense received a boost at 2:59 of the first when Chicago defenseman Keith Duncan was sent to the penalty box for interference. Then, 59-seconds later, the Coyotes were given a two-man advantage when Jassen Cullimore was called for tripping.
Operating with a pair of extra attackers, the Coyotes would need only 20-seconds to take advantage as Owen Nolan made a great pass through the crease to an open Yanic Perreault at the left side of the net; form there Perreault needed only to settle the puck and blast it into the open net, giving Phoenix a 1-0 lead at 4:19 of the first.
Following the goal by Perreault, the Blackhawks sill had 1:40 to kill off the Cullimore penalty, which they were able to do, keeping the Coyotes lead to one.
As the period continued, the Blackhawks offensive became more involved in the play as they tried to return to even ground. Then at 10:01 of the period, Chicago tied the score at 1-1 when a shot from the point by Brent Seabrook was tipped in front by Karl Stewart, just as Coyotes' defenseman Keith Ballard accidentally backed into goaltender Curtis Joseph, allowing the puck to slide into the net.
Less than a minute after the goal by Stewart, the Blackhawks went back on the offensive when Phoenix forward Georges Laraque was called for tripping at 10:46. The penalty to Laraque would prove costly as Bryan Smolinski's centering feed form the right corner was snapped past a sliding Joseph by Chicago's Martin Lapointe. Lapointe's goal, his fifth of the season, gave the Hawks their first lead of the night at 2-1.
With just 29 seconds remaining in the first, Coyotes forward Ladislav Nagy was taken out in the neutral zone when Chicago's Craig MacDonald delivered a clear knee-on-knee hit. The play sent Nagy to the ice and resulted in a minor penalty to MacDonald for tripping. Luckily, Nagy was able to return to his feet and skate to the bench under his own power.
After failing to register their first shot on goal until over seven minutes into the period, the Blackhawks finished the opening frame with a 14-9 advantage in shots and holding a one-goal lead.
Early in the second period, the physical play began to take over as a battle broke out between the Coyotes' Dave Scatchard and Chicago's Brent Seabrook. Took part in a minor battle. The end result was matching double minors for both players, however, Phoenix right wing Owen Nolan was also charged with a two-minute minor for cross-checking, giving the Blackhawks a power play. The Coyotes penalty-killing unit came through as they held the Chicago offense in check until they could return to full strength.
The Coyotes continued to give the Hawks chances on the man-advantage with Nick Boynton (roughing) and Matt Jones (delay-of-game) both making trips to the box during the first half of the period. Despite playing shorthanded for six of the first ten minutes of the second, the Coyotes were able to keep the Blackhawks from generating a legitimate offensive attack and keeping the deficit to a single goal.
At 12:16 of the second, the Hawk finally made a trip to the penalty box when Tuomo Ruutu was called for holding, putting Phoenix back on the power play. Unfortunately, when the Coyotes could get pucks through to the net, Boucher was able to make the stop and preserve the Chicago lead.
Late in the second, Enver Lisin nearly tied the game when his drive at the Chicago net beat Boucher, but rang off the right goal post and away from the net. Just 15-seconds later, Nagy broke free for a mini-breakaway on Boucher, but was unable to get a shot off as the Hawks netminder poked the puck off Nagy's stick.
The Blackhawks brought the attack back into the Coyotes zone where Joseph got caught behind the Phoenix goal as Chicago gained control and brought the puck around the net. The Hawks would have easily scored were it not for the heads up play of Keith Ballard who took to the crease and hugged the leg goal post, preventing a wrap around goal in the final minute of the stanza. The final seconds would slip off the clock and the Coyotes headed off the ice after 40-minuteds of play still trailing the Blackhawks by one.
The Blackhawks continued to keep the pressure on at the start of the third period and were only helped by a holding penalty to Scatchard with 14:35 to play. Once again, the Phoenix defense rose to the occasion and kept the Hawks from adding to their lead.
The Coyotes would tie the contest at 8:41 of the third when Georges Laraque made an incredible individual effort to gain and keep control of the puck in the left face-off circle of the Chicago zone; before moving the puck over to Mike Zigomanis, who swept a backhand past the glove of Boucher to even things up at 2-2.
Phoenix gave their penalty-killing unit their biggest test of the night at with less than six minutes to play when Fredrik Sjostrom was called for cross-checking, followed by a bench minor for abusive language. But the Coyotes stuck together and exhibited an inspired penalty kill before returning to full strength.
The final minutes of the third period would expire without either team finding the elusive go-ahead goal, thereby sending the contest into overtime.
In the extra session, both clubs tried to adopt a safe approach, trying to get to the net when possible, but not leaving themselves vulnerable defensively.
The Coyotes caught a break at 2:09 of overtime when Chicago's Tuomo Ruutu was called for hooking. However, ever with the extra attacker, the Coyotes would be forced to settle the contest in a shootout.
In the shootout, Chicago went first with Radim Vrbata, who made a nice move ot his left, but couldn't get the puck over the leg of Joseph.
The Coyotes first shooter was Yanic Perreault who raised eyebrows by taking a very wide turn at the blueline before cutting back across the crease and sending a shot over a falling Boucher and into the top of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Hawks second shooter was Jeff Hamilton, who was able to beat Joseph, tying the contest at 1-1.
Ladislav Nagy took the second shot for the Coyotes and he made it count by sending a low hard shot past Boucher for a 2-1 lead.
The Blackhawks final shooter was Michael Holmqvist, who was stopped by "Cujo" securing a 3-2 shootout win for the Coyotes.