Blackhawks start trip off right, top Coyotes in shootout

Tribune reporter

The Blackhawks' lack of success in shootouts has cost them some important points this season.

But goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, with a little help from his teammates, was able to break the shootout hex Tuesday night with a 3-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes before a crowd of 14,682 at Arena.

Khabibulin stopped Kyle Turris and Peter Mueller while Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp scored on the first two shots against Phoenix's Ilya Bryzgalov.

"One of these days it was going to happen, why not tonight?" Khabibulin said afterward. "You always try to look for answers when you lose in the shootout. We worked on it in pretty much every practice so maybe that paid off."

The victory kicked off a six-game trip for the Hawks. It snapped their three-game winless streak and improved their record to 2-3-1 away from home and 8-4-5 overall.

"We were tired of getting that far and not coming out with the two points," Toews said. "I think we got it though our heads that we can't be satisfied with getting to OT and getting that one point. We have to be that team that's always hungry and goes for that extra one. We bore down in the shootout and we made it happen. Khabby was great for us, so it was awesome to pull it off."

Kris Versteeg and Sharp scored goals 1 minute 8 seconds apart late in the first period to get the Hawks off on the right track.

After Bryzgalov stopped Patrick Kane on a breakaway, Versteeg closed quickly and knocked the rebound in for his sixth goal of the season to give the Hawks a 1-0 lead.

Sharp made it 2-0 with is team-leading 10th goal of the season when he stripped the Coyotes' Daniel Carcillo of the puck and fired a shot from between the circles that Bryzgalov got a piece of but saw trickle behind him into the net. The goal snapped Sharp's four-game span without a point.

Phoenix cut the lead to 2-1 on Zbynek Michalek's power-play goal early in the second and tied it 2-2 on Shane Doan's goal with a man advantage in the third.

"We started the game and went up 2-0 and we thought that it was just going to keep clicking. But they came back hard and changed the momentum on us," Toews said. "It was tough to kind of rally … but we survived it, we weathered the storm, we stayed alive and we found a way to win."

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville was pleased his team, which has won two straight road games, started the trip on a positive note.

"It was nice to see us score back-to-back [in the shootout]," Quenneville said. "Certainly we needed that in the worst way. We talk about it a lot. We practice it and make sure it's important. We measure their effectiveness [in practice] and it's good for the goalies as well."

One-timers: Hawks winger Patrick Kane turns 20 Wednesday, but he didn't have any big plans as the team was in Dallas for Thursday night's game against the Stars. "I'll probably just get ready for the game—nothing too special," Kane said. "Twenty is not really a great birthday. You're not a teenager anymore and you can't even get into the bars." … Khabibulin is now 1-4 in shootouts and the Hawks are 2-4 as a team in shootouts. … Brent Sopel and Craig Adams were scratches for the Hawks while veteran defenseman Matt Walker was in the lineup for the first time in three games.

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