Hawks fail to mount an attack

The wait for Martin Havlat's return to the Blackhawks' lineup will go into the weekend.

"Hopefully Saturday," head coach Denis Savard said Thursday morning.

It can't come soon enough for the Hawks, who played their 19th game without Havlat on Thursday night and suffered a lackluster 2-1 shootout loss against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Shane Doan scored the game-winner in the sixth round of the shootout.

"It was a pretty good move, I bit on the fake," Hawks goalie Nikolai Khabibulin said.

Tuomo Ruutu scored the Hawks' only shootout goal and Mike Zigomanis also scored for Phoenix in that round.

"I felt we had the chances to win," Savard said. "The effort was decent, but we had a few guys who didn't play as well [as they have been]."

Havlat and Savard agreed to wait at least another two days.

The Hawks will be in Minnesota on Saturday and home against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.

"[Havlat] wants to play," Savard said. "I know what he's going through, I had that same injury."

Savard suffered a similar injury in the late 1980s. He said he came back after only three weeks, played for about 10 days and then had to miss another four weeks because the ankle hadn't healed enough.

"I don't want him to have any doubt in his mind [after he returns]," Savard said.

Savard said he wouldn't have a problem with using Havlat only on the power play and if the Hawks got into a shootout, but it appears that Havlat wants to be able to play a full game when he returns.

"To get into condition, you have to play games," Savard said. "We'll manage him the right way when it's time."

Thursday, against a Phoenix team that played Wednesday night in Dallas and carried a 2-10 road record into the United Center, the Hawks had their flattest performance since Savard took over five games ago.

The Coyotes had the better of the play for the first two periods, outshooting the Hawks 25-16 through 40 minutes.

Yet the Hawks had the lead for most of the opening 40 minutes after Karl Stewart scored his second goal of the year on a shorthanded breakaway.

The Hawks had a chance to break the game open midway through the second, but again their power play failed them. They had a two-man advantage for 65 seconds but managed only shots from the goal line.

That failure cost them when Phoenix defenseman Ed Jovanovski beat Khabibulin from the point to tie the game 1-1 at 13:54 of the second period.

The Hawks had another two-man advantage late in the third for 52 seconds and an abbreviated one in the overtime. They haven't scored in their last 33 power plays and have one goal in their last 44 opportunities.

"We have to execute better passes to each other," Savard said. "Our best players have to execute in those situations. We have to loosen up and relax and make good decisions."

One-timers

Senior Vice President Bob Pulford was at the recent Board of Governors meeting, which once again tried to resolve an issue that never should be an issue and isn't in any other sport—the schedule. Pulford said it's extremely difficult to get teams with various agendas to agree on a format like, for example, the NBA's, which apparently wasn't considered even though both leagues are identical in their structure. Pulford would like to see a return to four divisions and divisional playoffs, but admitted Thursday it was a "non-starter" at the meetings. … Defenseman Adrian Aucoin, who missed his sixth straight game with a groin injury said he still has no timetable for a return, even though he did participate in Thursday's morning skate.

rfoltman@tribune.com

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