GLENDALE, Ariz. – Ilya Bryzgalov had a unique tactic on Patrick Kane’s breakaway late in overtime: he closed his eyes and Kane him in the chest.
In the shootout, he didn’t seem to need his eyes or his chest.
Bryzgalov stopped Kane on the overtime breakaway and only needed one save in the shootout when Chicago missed the goal on its final two chances, lifting the Phoenix Coyotes to a 4-3 win over the Blackhawks on Saturday night.
“I closed my eyes and hoped he’s not going to score,” Bryzgalov said of stopping Kane on a 2-on-none with just over a minute left in overtime.
OK, so maybe it wasn’t that simplistic. Bryzgalov has, after all, been known to use the close-my-eyes line whenever he stops a breakaway.
Still, it was a big save, one that gave the Coyotes a chance to win their fourth straight in the shootout after blowing a two-goal lead at home.
“That’s one of those you call a game-saving save,” said Phoenix coach Dave Tippett, who won his 350th career game.
Playing in front of the first sellout at Jobing.com Arena since the home opener, the Coyotes withstood a furious opening flurry by Chicago and were up 2-0 early in the second period on Radim Vrbata’s fourth goal in three games and Taylor Pyatt’s 15th of the season.
The Blackhawks resumed their pressure, though, getting a power play goal from Troy Brouwer in the second period and another by Duncan Keith with 4 minutes left in regulation to send the game to overtime.
But Chicago staggered to the finish after Kane’s breakaway missed.
Bryzgalov opened the shootout with a pad save on Toews and Vrbata scored on his chance by flipping it in with his backhand after faking forehand.
Phoenix didn’t score on its other two chances, but didn’t need to.
Kane and Marian Hossa both missed the net on their turns, sending the Blackhawks to their sixth loss in eight games—second straight in a shootout.
“You never know what’s going to happen in a shootout,” Blackhawks defenceman Brian Campbell said. “That’s why you try not to make it go that far.”
Chicago was coming off one of its most painful losses of the season.
The Blackhawks blew a three-goal, first-period lead to lose to Dallas in a shootout, and lost right wing Fernando Pisani (head) and centre Ryan Johnson (upper body) to injuries. They were both out against Phoenix—Johnson was placed on the injured list before the game—but left wing Viktor Stalberg was back after leaving with an upper body injury against the Stars.
The Blackhawks seemed fresh off the loss, though, dominating the opening 10 minutes. They just couldn’t get a puck past Bryzgalov. He turned away a couple of shots from close range on a power play and another from his belly on a rebound during the opening outburst.
“The first 10 minutes, they were a lot better team than we were,” said Vrbata, who has scored in three straight games.
The Coyotes withstood the initial flurry, then took their turn at turning up the pressure, leading to Vrbata’s breakaway goal after the Blackhawks got caught in the neutral zone. Vrbata used a deke left—opposite of what he did in the shootout—to get Corey Crawford to go down, then lifted his fourth goal in three games over the goalie’s left pad.
Pyatt needed 42 seconds of the second to make it 2-0, wristing a shot between the legs of defenceman Jordan Hendry and off the crossbar over Crawford’s shoulder for his 14th.
Chicago mustered a response on a crisp power play late in the period, when Hossa, back from missing a game with the flu, hit Brouwer on a short pass for a one-timer from the edge of the right circle.
The Blackhawks kept up the pressure into the third, but needed most of the period to get Keith’s equalizer on a tip-in after Coyotes defenceman Adrian Aucoin was called for delay of game for flipping a puck over the glass.
Chicago just couldn’t finish it off in overtime or the shootout, falling further from the playoff picture in the wildly-fluctuating Western Conference.
“We gave a tough one up and they had alot of momentum, bu we were able to hold them back and came back pretty strong,” said Crawford, who stopped 23 shots. “It shows a lot of character, but we have a lot of character in this room. We need the points.”
Notes: Phoenix D Ed Jovanovski returned after missing four games with an upper body injury. … Chicago recalled forward Jeff Taffe from Rockford of the AHL. … Hossa’s assist on Brouwer’s goal was his 800th NHL point.