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Coyotes 3, Blackhawks 2 @NHLdotcom

CHICAGO (AP) - Curtis Joseph was impressed with the challenge the Chicago Blackhawks gave him.

Joseph was sharp Sunday in making 34 saves during the Phoenix Coyotes' 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks. Things got even tougher once Mark Cullen cut Chicago's deficit to one goal with 3:16 left.

"They played hard for a team that's eliminated," Joseph said. "Once they got that second goal, it seemed to give them a lot of life.

Shane Doan, Paul Mara and Mike Comrie scored, and Steven Reinprecht had two assists for the Coyotes, who won for just the second time in six games.

"The last 90 seconds I thought we did a good job," he added. "We need to play like that with a lead."

Mara's 14th goal gave him a career-high 43 points this season, but he heaped praise on his goaltender.

"Cujo was amazing for us again," Mara said.

Curtis Brown and Mark Cullen had Chicago's goals, and Nikolai Khabibulin made 23 saves for the Blackhawks, who are tied for last in the Western Conference, have lost five of six and 10 of 13. Khabibulin had five rookie defensemen playing in front of him.

But it was Khabibulin who had a hand in the winning goal getting past him. Doan's goal with 3:16 left in the second period gave Phoenix a 3-1 lead.

Doan moved in 1-on-1 with Jim Vandermeer - the Blackhawks' only non-rookie defenseman - and fired a shot from the left circle. The drive might have sailed wide but it hit Khabibulin's glove and deflected into the net.

"I got it through Vandermeer's legs, and as it went through I think Nicky lost sight of it for a second and that makes it tough," Doan said.

Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky wasn't about to blame Khabibulin.

"We know Khabibulin is a great goaltender," he said. "It was just one of those goals where it clipped off the inside of his glove and went into the net."

The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the power play and are in an 0-for-26 skid over seven games. Chicago lost by one goal for the 21st time.

"The real wearing aspect of that is you're losing," Brown said. "It doesn't matter if you're losing by one of more goals. We fought and we didn't give up."

Mara gave Phoenix a 1-0 lead at 4:42 of the first period. After taking a centering pass from Boyd Devereaux, Mara fanned on his first shot from the slot. He regained control of the puck and swept a second attempt past Khabibulin.

Brown tied it at 11:11, when driving up the slot he redirected Mikael Holmqvist's centering pass through Joseph.

Comrie's 4-on-3 goal at 9:11 of the second gave Phoenix a 2-1 lead. He scored from the right side of the crease after Reinprecht deflected Jamie Rivers' drive from the top of the slot.

Joseph made one of his toughest saves with 4:10 left in the second, using his glove to snag Mark's Bell's drive from the slot.

Notes: The Coyotes beat Khabibulin for the first time, following five losses to their former goaltender. Khabibulin began his career with the Winnipeg Jets, who moved to Phoenix in 1996, and played five seasons with the franchise. ... Chicago D Jassen Cullimore missed the game with a left knee injury, sustained Friday against Anaheim. The severity hasn't been announced. The Blackhawks recalled James Wisniewski from Norfolk of the AHL. ... Chicago forward Tuomo Ruutu has resumed practicing and might play again before the end of the season. Ruutu partially severed a tendon in his ankle on Jan. 8 and underwent surgery.

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