The Blackhawks resembled Derek Zoolander on Thursday night in Phoenix: they looked great, but were no match for Hanzal.
Martin Hanzal played nearly 21 quality minutes on Thursday night, scoring the Coyotes’ first goal and assisting on the second as Phoenix sprinted to a 2-0 early lead. Despite their best efforts late, the Hawks were never able to climb out of that hole, and lost 3-1.
Hanzal wasn’t the hottest thing on the ice Thursday, though. Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 31 out of 32 shots he faced and proved to be entering the elite class of goalies this year. Bryzgalov improved to 9-4-0 and was certainly up to the task against a Hawks offense that threw everything it had towards him in the third period.
The Blackhawks, though, certainly appeared rusty after five days off between games. In the second period, both Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane had gorgeous looks on breakaways and both missed on top shelf attempts. It wasn’t until the Blackhawks were chasing three goals that Kris Versteeg scored a great shorthanded goal to cut the lead back to two.
Colin Fraser put the puck into the net later in the second, but the goal was reviewed and eliminated because it appeared Fraser kicked the puck between Bryzgalov’s legs.
Chicago’s power play was a failure again, netting nothing in six opportunities. Including Thursday, the Blackhawks’ power play is now 2-24 in Jonathan Toews’ absence, something that hopefully ends soon.
The defense struggled in front of Cristobal Huet as well on Thursday. Cam Barker and Brent Sopel played poorly, with Sopel looking foolish on Hanzal’s goal in the first. Huet also wasn’t hit best on Thursday, allowing more than two goals for the first time in his stretch of five straight starts. At the end of the night, Huet only stopped 20 of 23 shots (.870 save percentage).
Friday night the Hawks will get another look at a surprising goalie, Colorado’s Craig Anderson.