By Dave Vest
GLENDALE – Peter Mueller scored his first goal of the season and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 31 of 32 shots to lead the Coyotes to a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal played nearly 21 minutes and chipped in a goal and an assist.
“We had some real solid individual efforts,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “Marty Hanzal’s individual effort was unbelievable…I’m still concerned about the penalties we’re taking but I like their compete level right down to the final buzzer."
The victory snapped Phoenix’s two-game losing streak and its six-game skid vs. Chicago.
The Coyotes (9-6-0) took a 1-0 lead at 2:54 of the first period when Hanzal wristed a shot from the left faceoff dot between the legs of Chicago goalie Cristobal Huet.
Mueller gave Phoenix a 2-0 advantage nine minutes later when he knocked a rebound past Huet.
Forward Scottie Upshall, who missed Wednesday’s game at Colorado because of a lower-body injury, upped Phoenix’s lead to 3-0 with a nifty shot over Huet’s glove at 10:38 of the second period.
Chicago’s Kris Versteeg spoiled Bryzgalov’s bid for his fourth shutout of the season by scoring a short-handed goal at 13:56 of the second period. Patrick Kane set up the goal with a nice drop pass.
The Blackhawks briefly pulled to within 3-2 near the middle of the third period, but the video replay officials ruled that Colin Fraser kicked the puck past Bryzgalov and the goal was disallowed.
The Blackhawks (8-5-1) played without injured captain Jonathan Toews for the fifth straight game.
With the Coyotes leading 2-0 early in the second period, Chicago had two breakaways within 20 seconds but couldn’t score. Patrick Sharp drove the Phoenix net on the first breakaway, but his shot on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov sailed wide to the right. A breakaway by Patrick Kane followed, but Kane's shot hit the crossbar and bounced away.
• The Coyotes played minus defenseman Zbynek Michalek. The alternate captain suffered a lower-body injury vs. Colorado on Wednesday. The game was the first game missed by Michalek since he missed the first seven games of the 2007-08 season. After returning from that hand injury, Michalek played in 172 consecutive games until Thursday. His status is listed as week-to-week. Meanwhile, defenseman Kurt Sauer also is listed as week-to-week. Sauer has been nursing an upper-body injury suffered early in the preseason.
• Coyotes defenseman Ed Jovanovski did not play late in the third period after suffering an apparent lower-body injury. There was no immediate word on his condition.
• Defenseman David Schlemko, whom the Coyotes recalled from the American Hockey League to replace Zbynek Michalek, assisted on Scottie Upshall’s goal. It was Schlemko’s second NHL point. He had one assist in three games with the Coyotes last season.
• Phoenix has committed four delay-of-game penalties in the past four games, including one in the first period vs. Chicago.