CHICAGO - Curtis Joseph was impressed with the challenge the Chicago Blackhawks gave him. Joseph was sharp Sunday in making 34 saves during the Coyotes’ 3-2 victory over the Blackhawks.
Things got even tougher once Mark Cullen cut Chicago’s deficit to one goal with 3:16 left.
‘‘They played hard for a team that’s eliminated,’’ Joseph said. ‘‘Once they got that second goal, it seemed to give them a lot of life.”
Shane Doan, Paul Mara and Mike Comrie scored, and Steven Reinprecht had two assists for the Coyotes, who won for just the second time in six games.
Mara’s 14th goal gave him a career-high 43 points this season, but he heaped praise on his goaltender.
‘‘Cujo was amazing for us again,’’ Mara said.
Curtis Brown and Mark Cullen had Chicago’s goals, and Nikolai Khabibulin made 23 saves for the Blackhawks, who are tied for last in the Western Conference and have lost five of six and 10 of 13.
Khabibulin had a hand in the winning goal getting past him. Doan’s goal with 3:16 left in the second period gave Phoenix a 3-1 lead.
Doan moved in one-on-one with Jim Vandermeer — the Blackhawks’ only nonrookie defenseman — and fired a shot from the left circle. The drive might have sailed wide but it hit Khabibulin’s glove and deflected into the net.
‘‘I got it through Vandermeer’s legs, and as it went through I think Nicky lost sight of it for a second and that makes it tough,’’ Doan said.
Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky wasn’t about to blame Khabibulin.
‘‘We know Khabibulin is a great goaltender,’’ he said. ‘‘It was just one of those goals where it clipped off the inside of his glove and went into the net.’’
IN THE PINK
Keith Ballard, Derek Morris, Mike Comrie and Oleg Saprykin were among hundreds of NHL players who used pink sticks during games this weekend to raise awareness of breast cancer and pay tribute to hockey moms.
Geoff Sanderson, Fredrek Sjostrom and Jamie Rivers also used pink sticks during warm-ups.
TPS Hockey, a company that makes hockey equipment, spent an estimated $50,000 for the initiative, which sprouted in the Gretzky family home in Brantford, Ontario, shortly after the Dec. 19 death of Gretzky’s mother, Phyllis. Each stick and its painting cost $300, and it is estimated more than 400 sticks were used.
Each player had his name inscribed on the stick, which will be autographed and auctioned off at www.frameworth.com to raise money for breast cancer research.
BETTER WITH AGE
With his first-period goal, defenseman Paul Mara set a career high for points in a season with 43. It marked the sixth consecutive season Mara has eclipsed his previous season’s total.
The 26-year-old established a new high for goals earlier this season (10 was his high; he now has 14), and he is only eight assists shy of setting a new mark in that category as well. Phoenix has 14 games remaining.
Doan’s goal gave him 24 this season, the most of any player who also has at least 100 penalty minutes. Doan has 114.
- Staff writer Matt Paulson contributed to this report.