Krys Kolanos took the ice for pregame warm-ups Friday and the rest of the Coyotes waited until he had taken about three laps alone before joining him.
"I felt like Michelle Kwan out there," Kolanos said.
The practical joke was orchestrated, as usual, by wing Shane Doan.
"We thought the fans needed to see him again," Doan said.
After missing the first 80 games of the season while recovering from post-concussive syndrome, Kolanos received high marks from the judges on the Coyotes bench, in the management suites and in the stands by manufacturing four shots and three quality scoring chances in 15 minutes, 8 seconds of ice time as the Coyotes topped Nashville, 1-0, at America West Arena.
"It was the perfect game for him to play in. There wasn't much contact in that one," Coyotes coach Bob Francis said. "He had a good jump and you can see the talent that he has."
Kolanos said the game helped him clear a mental hurdle.
"You betcha. It's a good feeling to move forward from now," he said. "No looking back."
Ditto for Sean Burke. After missing seven games with a groin strain, Burke stopped all 24 Nashville shots in typical, nonchalant style for his second shutout of the season.
Branko Radivojevic scored with 2:58 remaining in regulation to help the Coyotes close the home portion of their schedule on a high note.
The Coyotes have two years left on their affiliation with Springfield (Mass.) of the American Hockey League, but published reports out of Canada this week have the Falcons negotiating with Tampa — the other team in the Coyotes shared agreement with Springfield — to make the Lightning their sole affiliate.
NHL sources say the Falcons are unhappy with the Coyotes' lack of prospects, which affects the club's bottom line. The team made the playoffs this season for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. Recent trades have also impacted the Falcons’ ability to compete and draw fans. When the Coyotes acquired center Jan Hrdina it cost Springfield prospects Guillaume Lefebvre, Ramzi Abid and Dan Focht.
Coyotes assistant general manager Laurence Gilman said the Coyotes are still involved in talks with Springfield officials about the possibility of becoming the club's sole affiliate or finding a new affiliate closer to Phoenix.
"I would think we could probably let this go into July or August before making a decision, but from a professional standpoint the issue will probably resolve itself sometime within the next 30 days," Gilman said.
The Coyotes announced their team awards before Friday's game. Center Mike Johnson, who has played in all 81 games and leads the club with 23 goals, 39 assists and 62 points, was named the club's most valuable player. All three statistics are career highs.
Assistant captain Shane Doan was voted the team's hardest working player and wing Ladislav Nagy earned the team's 3-star award.
Wing Paul Ranheim was admitted to a Scottsdale hospital Thursday afternoon for precautionary reasons after an infected cut on his ankle worsened. He is out for the season.