GLENDALE, Ariz. – Patrick Lalime is in that zone only a goaltender can fully appreciate. He’s deflecting practically everything that comes at him.
Saturday night’s effort might have been his best yet.
Lalime had 38 saves, then blocked all three attempts in a shootout to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to their fourth consecutive victory, 2-1 over the Phoenix Coyotes.
It was the second 2-1 shootout victory in two nights for Chicago. The Blackhawks won by the same score Friday night at Colorado.
“He deserves all the credit,” Chicago coach Denis Savard said. “He got us back in the race.”
Lalime has been in goal for all four wins, three of them shootouts, after taking over from struggling Nikolai Khabibulin.
“Khabi’s still with us. He’s been a great goalie and he’s still going to be one,” Savard said, “but right now I have Patty. He’s seeing the puck very well. I can see that even from the bench when the shooters are coming down on him.”
Patrick Kane and Martin Havlat scored in the shootout against Phoenix goalie Ilja Bryzgalov, and the Blackhawks clinched the victory when Lalime got his third straight block, on a shot by Peter Mueller, who earlier scored Phoenix’s lone goal.
“You never know,” he said of playing in a shootout. “You just have to be patient and try to wait for the move, and take it from there.”
Kane’s impressive backhand goal was his second shootout goal in as many nights. He also assisted on Brent Seabrook’s game-tying goal in the second period.
“He’s exciting,” Savard said. “Fans in Chicago have something they’re really looking forward to. This kid’s going to be with us for a long time, and he’s fun to watch, fun to coach.”
The Blackhawks had a chance to win it with a penalty shot with 14.7 seconds left in overtime, but Bryzgalov blocked Rene Bourque’s attempt. The penalty shot came when Ed Jovanovski pushed Bourque, who had an unimpeded path to the net. Jovanovski was livid about the call, but said afterward he understood why it was made.
“I did put my arm out,” he said. “I probably should have just turned and skated with him.”
It was the first game for Phoenix since their 2-1 loss to Columbus on Rick Nash’s spectacular goal with 21.5 seconds to play. Coach Wayne Gretzky disapproved of the effort in that one, but he had few complaints about Saturday’s loss.
“We were physical and I thought we played a very solid hockey game,” he said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get two points out of it, but you know what, they played hard and I liked the way we bounced back after a not great effort on Thursday night.”
“If we play like that and get that many opportunities, I think most nights it’s going to be a successful one for us,” he said. “Sometimes you run into good goaltending. You’ve got to give Lalime credit.”
Both teams scored on power plays in the second period.
The Coyotes broke a scoreless tie 27 seconds into a Chicago penalty for too many players on the ice. Mueller got his 12th goal of the season on a straightaway shot from the blue line that was inadvertently deflected into the net by Chicago defenceman Duncan Keith at 12:08.
Shane Doan and Joel Perrault got assists. The assist extended Doan’s career-long point streak to 10 games.
The Blackhawks tied it with 4:04 left in the period while the Coyotes’ Daniel Winnik was serving the last 28 seconds of a double-minor penalty for high-sticking. Brent Seabrook’s one-timer from the left circle sailed past the right shoulder of Bryzgalov into the net. It was the sixth goal of the season for Seabrook. Kane and Dustin Byfuglien got assists.
Phoenix outshot Chicago 39-24.
Notes: Fans received a Bobby Hull figurine. Hull was introduced before the game, then signed autographs in the concourse. The Hall of Famer played for Chicago and Winnipeg, the franchise which moved to Phoenix. … Phoenix assigned defenceman Matt Jones to San Antonio of the AHL for conditioning. … Chicago plays eight of its next nine on the road. … Attendance was a season-high 18,073.