Series (Game 1 of 4)

Chicago leads 2-1

Game 1: Thursday, November 28th
Game 2: Wednesday, January 8th
Game 3: Thursday, February 20th
Game 4: Friday, March 14th

Blackhawks 4

(10-9-0, 23 pts)

Coyotes 2

(7-12-1, 19 pts)

9:00 PM ET, November 28, 2002

US Airways Center, Phoenix, Arizona

1 2 3 T
CHI 4 0 04
ARI 1 0 12

A. Zhamnov (Blackhawks - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

J. Thibault (Blackhawks - G): Saves: 34, Save Pct.: .944

S. Doan (Coyotes - RW): Goals: 2, Assists: 0

Amonte's Coyotes can't handle his former team

PHOENIX (AP) -- It was a bittersweet reunion for Alex Zhamnov and Tony Amonte.



Zhamnov, who succeeded Amonte as Chicago's captain when his former linemate signed with Phoenix in July, had a goal and an assist to help the Blackhawks beat the Coyotes 4-2 Thursday night.

"It was probably a little special game for me because we played together for six years,'' Zhamnov said. "It was a little tough, but we knew what we had to do before this game, that's for sure. We needed the two points.''

Eric Daze also had a goal and an assist, and Sergei Berezin and Nathan Dempsey scored as Chicago snapped a four-game losing streak in the fifth game of its seven-game road trip.

Jocelyn Thibault made 34 saves, 16 in the third period when the Coyotes tried to fight back after allowing four goals in the first.

"We felt we'd been working hard and playing hard and not getting results,'' Chicago's Steve Sullivan said. "To get some goals early definitely helped our confidence, and Jocelyn held us in from there.''

Shane Doan had both Phoenix goals.

Amonte had a seven-year low in goals (27) last season after what he claims was a Thanksgiving Day 2001 interview during which Chicago general manager Mike Smith told him he would not be re-signed.

This season has been even more difficult for Amonte -- through 24 games, he has five goals and 12 assists.

"I'm just not putting the puck in the net,'' said Amonte, who was given a $24 million, four-year contract to do just that. "That's the bottom line. It's just not going in the net. I had a chance right there at the end -- I chip one in, it hits Thibault, hits the crossbar and pops out.''

Amonte spoke with Zhamnov during the game, but was too upset with the loss to dwell on memories.

"It's part of the business,'' Amonte said. "It's fun to play against them. It was nice to see some familiar faces.''

Losing the five-time All-Star also seemed to affect the Blackhawks, who had scored 48 goals in their first 21 games -- on pace to finish with less than 200 in a full season for the first time in 40 years.

They signed Theo Fleury in August to offset Amonte's departure, but Fleury was suspended indefinitely on Oct. 8 for violating the NHL's substance-abuse aftercare program and wasn't cleared to begin practicing with the team until Tuesday.

Fleury watched the game in street clothes.

The Blackhawks scored all their goals in the first 14:32 against Phoenix goalie Brian Boucher, who stopped only 14 shots after making 33 saves in a 2-2 tie with Anaheim the night before.

"We're professionals,'' Boucher said. "We should be ready to play, and we're not. We lose battles and we don't respond to them. We've come back and got a lot of ties -- maybe ties we shouldn't have gotten -- but tonight was too big a lead.''

Berezin lit the lamp 2:05 in with a wraparound when he caught Boucher falling to his right and tucked the puck in the net before Boucher could scramble back. Dempsey scored on a crossing pass from Steve Thomas 6:28 in, and Daze made it 3-0 just 1:24 later, flicking a shot under the crossbar after a pass from Zhamnov, who beat Phoenix defenseman Deron Quint to the puck along the boards.

Zhamnov's goal was a momentum-killer, coming 21 seconds after Doan cut Phoenix's deficit to 3-1 with 5:49 left in the first. Zhamnov knocked a rebound past Boucher after Daze's shot bounced out.

"We have to be the stupidest team I know for not learning the exact same things that we've done wrong how many times,'' Doan said, blaming himself for turning the puck over to start Chicago's last scoring sequence.

"We come in here and talk like we know what's going to happen, what we need to do -- and yet we go out there and fool everybody and fool ourselves.''

Doan got his team-high 10th goal on a power play at 5:38 of the third period, and Amonte got an assist for passing to Doan high in the slot.

Game notes

Phoenix D Todd Simpson served the second game of a three-game suspension for a high-sticking match penalty against Dallas on Monday. ... Chicago is 40-0-5 when leading after two periods since losing to Carolina on March 4, 2001. ... Defensemen have scored 13 of Chicago's 52 goals.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press