GLENDALE, Ariz. – Given the chance to do what he expected to be doing all year, Mikael Tellqvist shone.
Tellqvist, who started the season as Phoenix’s No. 1 goalie, but has become the backup, stopped 25 shots to help the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 Thursday night.
“I’m glad to contribute to this team and try and win games,” Tellqvist said. “There’s always a little rust and it’s so different practising than playing in games. Obviously you want to play games, but you have to stay professional.”
It was just the 11th game of the season for Tellqvist, relegated to the bench after the Coyotes acquired Ilya Bryzgalov on waivers from Anaheim Nov. 17.
“Tellqvist was outstanding when he had to be,” Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. “It was great to see him do what he did because he is well-liked on the team and works hard every day.”
Radim Vrbata tied a career high with his 18th goal of the season and Craig Weller, Martin Hanzal and Fredrik Sjostrom also scored for Phoenix, which won for just the seventh time in 18 home games.
Tellqvist held Chicago scoreless until Cameron Barker ruined the shutout at 11:31 of the third period. Kris Versteeg brought the Hawks to within one at 18:33 before Sjostrom scored into an empty net.
The Blackhawks were 0-for-3 on the power play, while Phoenix was 1-for-8.
“Obviously, we didn’t get many calls,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “I was proud in the way we came back. … After all, we were only one shot away from a point.”
Hanging on to a 2-0 lead into third period, Vrbata scored with a five-on-three advantage at 7:45.
In the first period, Hanzal beat Blackhawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin at 6:14, and about 10 minutes later, Daniel Winnik fed Weller in front for Weller’s second of the season.
“We had our chances but their goalie came up big,” Chicago’s Brent Seabrook said. “We’re kind of struggling right now, and need to shore up our game. There’s a great deal of character in this room and now is the time for everyone to step forward.”
Weller returned to the lineup Thursday night after missing the last seven games with a concussion.
Notes: Phoenix captain Shane Doan was scratched and listed as day-to-day with a minor hand injury. … Ilya Bryzgalov started the last seven games and 18 of the previous 19. … With a goal and an assist, Hanzal picked up just his third multipoint game of the year. … The loss dropped Chicago below .500 on the road. The Hawks are now 7-8-2 away from United Center. … Barker’s goal was his first of the season since being recalled from Rockford (Ill.) of the AHL on Dec. 20. … Tellqvist started for the first time since Dec. 15 at New Jersey.