CHICAGO- Against the Blackhawks, the shootout is the route to go for the Coyotes. Phoenix beat Chicago for the second time in as many meetings this season, 2-1 Thursday at the United Center.
Mike Zigomanis extended the shootout to a sixth round, and Shane Doan scored the difference-maker when he beat former Coyote and Valley resident Nikolai Khabibulin with a shot from his right.
“Niki is one of the top three goalies in the world, and I get to shoot on him all summer long,” said Doan, who often skates with Khabibulin and others in the offseason. “I don’t think I’ve ever scored on a breakaway, so I’m not going to say I got anything other than I’m fortunate enough to beat him.”
Backup goalie Mikael Tellqvist improved to 2-0 with the Coyotes after turning in another stellar performance, finishing with 30 saves and stopping four of five shots in the shootout.
“It’s great to see when a guy comes in and gives the players the confidence that he’s given our group of guys,” coach Wayne Gretzky said. “It’s really been a boost for our team.”
Phoenix’s penalty kill also came up big, squashing two five-on-three disadvantages, including one in the final 2 1/2 minutes of regulation.
“Our PK was unbelievable tonight,” Tellqvist said.
Ed Jovanovski tied the game at 1-1 at 13:54 of the second after Karl Stewart scored on a short-handed breakaway to give Chicago a 1-0 lead at 13:09 of the first.
Forward Patrick Fischer had an assist to extend his point streak to three games.
Center Mike Ricci’s ice time with the Coyotes is diminishing dramatically. Whether his days with the organization are as well remains to be seen.
With Fischer returning to the lineup after missing one game with a groin injury, Ricci, who played just five minutes Wednesday, was a healthy scratch for the second time in three games Thursday.
Gretzky said the main reasons for Ricci’s limited time of late are his lack of speed and conditioning level. Ricci, 35, missed the first 20 games of the season while recovering from offseason neck surgery.
“It’s not really a question of him playing poorly,” Gretzky said. “He hasn’t had time to get into the condition the other guys are at, in my estimation. So I’m not in a panic situation here with Mike. It’s more we need to get him up to speed and up to the level we know he’s capable of.”
Ricci averaged 12 minutes of ice time in four games before being scratched Monday. Gretzky said Ricci’s drop in time doesn’t mean he’s trying to nudge the 16-year veteran into retirement like he did last season with Brett Hull.
“First of all, he’s got too much respect from the coaching staff and the organization,” Gretzky said. “We would never try to ease him out by any means. But at this point in time, I think I’m making the right decision.”
Ricci, who had 10 goals and 16 points in 78 games last season, said neither Gretzky nor general manager Mike Barnett have spoken to him about his future.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Ricci said. “It’s out of my control. ... I’m just going to try and stay as positive as I can.”
Defenseman Travis Roche left the game in the first period with a mild concussion. . . Coyotes prospect Martin Hanzal, the team’s No. 1 pick in the 2005 draft, has been selected to play for the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championships from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Sweden. . . . The radio broadcast of Saturday’s Coyotes game has been moved to FREE FM (101.5 FM).