GLENDALE, Ariz. - Heading into Tuesday’s game, the Coyotes had earned only two points in the eight games in which they trailed after 40 minutes. They added a crucial point to that statistic after coming back from a 2-1 deficit to grab a point in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks at Jobing.com Arena.
Shane Doan and Zbynek Michalek scored power-play goals in front of a 14,682 boisterous fans.
“We played really strong the last half of the game,” Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky said. “Even earlier in the game, we weren’t that bad.”
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp scored in the shootout for the Blackhawks, while Sharp and Kris Versteeg added goals in regulation for Chicago (8-4-5). Neither Kyle Turris nor Peter Mueller scored in the shootout for Phoenix.
In his 900th career game, Doan notched a crucial goal at 5:57 of the third period to tie the score at 2. On a power play for the seventh time in the game, Mueller brought the puck across the blue line, then found Doan, who blasted a one-timer past Blackhawks goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin for his team-leading 10th goal of the season.
“The point is big for us,” Doan said. “When we got the first goal, obviously you think you can win the game … when we tied it up in the third, we still had 15 minutes left to get chances.”
In the overtime period, the Blackhawks had most of the opportunities, especially during a power play for the final 1:22 resulting from an Ed Jovanovski high-sticking minor. Phoenix was able to kill the penalty, but it could not muster a goal in the shootout, its first of the season, while the Blackhawks got goals from both their shooters.
The Coyotes fell behind late in the first period after Jovanovski was hit in an awkward position and remained on the ice in pain. Moments later, with Jovanovski still on the ice, Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane came in on Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov on a breakaway. Bryzgalov made the first save, but rookie Kris Versteeg finished the rebound for his sixth goal of the season, and Chicago led 1-0 at 18:02.
The Coyotes were angry because they felt the referee should have stopped play because Jovanovski was down and Phoenix had control of the puck.
"Our player was hurt and wasn't in the play," Gretzky said. "We just got caught a man short and that got us back on our heels."
Just 68 seconds later, Sharp found a rebound at the bottom of the circle and put it through Bryzgalov for his 10th goal of the season.
Trailing 2-0, the Coyotes netted two power-play goals.
Our player was hurt and wasn't in the play. We just got caught a man short and that got us back on our heels.- Wayne Gretzky
“We changed it up a little tonight,” Gretzky said. “We sort of went with a three-line rotation … we were using more defense tonight. We have to figure out ways to score. If we have to use all three units to score, we will.”
Michalek scored his first goal of the season at 6:08 of the second period when his one-timer got by Khabibulin a second before the power play expired.
“It was a good play by Keith Yandle,” Michalek said. “He gave me a perfect pass and all I was trying to do was hit the net and it went in. It was a good screen and we talked about it during practice that we needed to drive to the net and it was perfect.”
The Coyotes built up momentum at the end of the second period when a fight broke out. But it wasn’t tough guy Brian McGrattan, who played in his first game since Oct. 25, who fought, nor was it enforcer Todd Fedoruk or sparkplug Daniel Carcillo. It was center Olli Jokinen, who challenged Blackhawks defenseman Colin Fraser in the 23rd fight of his NHL career.
• Bryzgalov made 38 saves against Chicago, a season-high.
• Since being scratched from the lineup for four games, Keith Yandle has registered five assists and a +4 rating in the past five games. Yandle leads all Coyotes defensemen in scoring this season with 1-8-9 in 13 games.
• Through 17 games, Doan and Jokinen have both kept up "point-per-game" averages. Doan leads the team with 10-8-18 while Jokinen ranks second on the team in scoring with 7-10-17. Doan, who set career-highs last season in points (78) and assists (50), is currently on pace to top his career-bests in points and goals (30 in 2005-06).
• Bryzgalov has started 10 consecutive games for the Coyotes and has gone 5-4-1 during that stretch. His longest consecutive starts streak is 12 games (Nov. 17-Dec. 13, 2007).
• Michalek and Jovanovski led the Coyotes in shots with five. It is the first time this season two defensemen led the team in shots in a game.
• Tuesday’s game was the first of a six-game trip for the Blackhawks. "It was nice to start the road trip with a win," Khabibulin told reporters. "Any time you can start a long road trip with a win, that's a good thing."