Not only were they on their annual trip while the circus invades the United Center, but they also were fighting early for their postseason lives.That fight took one step backward with a 3-2 loss to the Western Conference cellar-dwelling Coyotes in a shootout to begin a five-game journey.
Of the upcoming games on this trip, Thursday seemed to be the most ripe for picking, considering the struggles the Coyotes and coach Wayne Gretzky have had.
But after dropping eight of their first 10 games, the Coyotes are 4-4 since, including a come-from-behind victory Tuesday over Minnesota.
Phoenix got off to a quick start Thursday thanks to penalties Duncan Keith and Jassen Cullimore took in the first four minutes of the game.
With a two-man advantage, Perreault found an open side of the net against Brian Boucher at 4:19 to give the Coyotes the lead. The power-play goal was the first the Hawks had allowed since Halloween on Long Island, snapping a streak of 27 straight kills over four games.
The Hawks responded six minutes later with Karl Stewart's first NHL goal. Stewart deflected a Brent Seabrook shot from the high slot past Curtis Joseph to tie the game at 1-1.
Craig MacDonald picked up an assist as well, giving the Hawks their first two points of the season from any of the players they have called up from Norfolk.
The Hawks took the lead 1:32 later on the power play when Martin Lapointe banged home a perfect pass from Bryan Smolinski.
Center Michal Handzus had surgery Thursday on the torn ACL in his left knee. Hawks general manager Dale Tallon didn't rule out Handzus being ready to play by mid-March. . . . Martin Havlat went through a hard 90-minute skate Thursday in Chicago. Tallon said the goal is for Havlat to be ready when the Hawks return home to face Dallas on Nov. 29. . . . Tony Salmelainen returned to the lineup after a five-game absence with a shoulder injury. The question now becomes how much ice time Salmelainen will receive. Tallon would like to see Salmelainen play more than the 9:33 he has been averaging so far in 10 games. Hawks coach Trent Yawney would like to see Salmelainen produce more than one point in those 10 games to earn more ice time. . . . Perreault, who seems always to draw interest from the Hawks before signing somewhere else, has been quite a pickup for the Coyotes. Perreault had the first goal Thursday and two goals Tuesday in the Coyotes' 4-3 victory over Minnesota. He has four goals and six points in six games, which is three more goals and two more points than Jeremy Roenick has in 18 games. . . . Phoenix rookie Enver Lisin has one of the more interesting stat lines this season. In 13 games before Thursday, Lisin has one goal, one assist and is a minus-17.