The Blackhawks' seven-game, 13-day trip ended with a sixth
straight victory Saturday night, as Patrick Kane had a goal and an
assist in a dominant first period and Antti Raanta made 32 saves in
a 5-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes.
"We loved the trip," said coach Joel Quenneville, whose team
improved to an NHL-best 20-4-4.
"We loved the consistency. We loved the contribution we're getting
across the board."
After watching a 3-0 lead become 3-2 after a sloppy second period,
Brandon Bollig's goal with 9:11 left put it away for Chicago. Andrew
Shaw and Niklas Hjalmarsson also scored for the Blackhawks, and
Marian Hossa added an empty-net goal.
Rob Klinkhammer and Martin Hanzal scored for the Coyotes, whose
fourth loss in five games left coach Dave Tippett fuming.
"That's the top team in the league and we come out and start like
that?" Tippett said. "That's just unacceptable."
On their annual, lengthy trip while the United Center hosts the
circus, Chicago played in Colorado, toured western Canada and
stopped in Dallas on Friday night, where the Blackhawks prevailed in
the 11th round of a shootout.
After stopping 10 of 11 shots in the shootout less than 24 hours
earlier, Quenneville gave Corey Crawford the night off.
Raanta, who secured his first NHL victory Wednesday in Calgary,
showed poise in his second start after the Coyotes got within a goal
late in the second period.
"It was much easier to play today than in Calgary," Raanta said. "It
was a pretty good game and I felt really good,"
The Blackhawks showed no fatigue early, while getting some help from
the bumbling Coyotes, who have made a habit of falling behind early.
Phoenix was called for too many men on the ice after the first shift
49 seconds into the game, and 25 seconds later Derek Morris was sent
to the box for holding.
Chicago took advantage of the 5 on 3 against the league's
27th-ranked penalty killing unit as Kane deflected Hossa's shot from
the point, beating goaltender Mike Smith high for Kane's 16th goal
of the season.
The Blackhawks went up 2-0 when Shaw picked up the puck in a
scramble in front of the net and sent a soft, bouncing backhand that
squirted past Smith by the left post at 9:18.
Less than two minutes later, Hjalmarsson's took Kane's pass off the
boards and beat Smith from the corner and Chicago had three goals on
[to top of second column]
"Great start. It could have been our best period
to start a period all year," Quenneville said.It marked the
second time this week Phoenix, which has been outscored 28-16 in
the first period this season, had fallen behind 3-0 in the
opening 20 minutes.
"I don't know what it is. We obviously aren't ready for the
first period," Hanzal said. "We have to start making sure we are
ready because this is unacceptable."
Phoenix got within 3-1 early in the second period when Michael
Stone intentionally shot wide. The puck bounced off the boards
directly to Klinkhammer, who poked it in the net by the near
post for his fifth goal, while Stone got an assist.
Chicago's parade to the penalty box allowed the Coyotes to make
it a game.
With Hjalmarsson serving four minutes for slashing and then
complaining about it, Hanzal redirected Radim Vrbata's pass in
front of the net to make it 3-2 with 4:04 left in the second.
But Chicago later killed off a 5-on-3 power play.
Smith stopped 31 shots in what Tippett called a "very average"
performance in a sour ending to a record-breaking night off the
ice for the Coyotes.
Despite competition in the area from the Arizona-Arizona State
football game and the Jazz-Suns game, the Coyotes announced they
broke a franchise record for single-game revenue, in part
because all luxury suites were sold and the team has cut down on
The sellout crowd of 17,321 was a high point for the
once-troubled franchise, which was under NHL control until a
group led by George Gosbee took over this summer and committed
to keep the team in Arizona.
But the Coyotes fell to 0-2 against the Blackhawks.
"The consistency is what we're appreciating," Quenneville said.
"The energy and enthusiasm in the locker room and on the bench
is as good as we've seen it here."
NOTES: Coyotes D Rusty Klesla, who was waived Tuesday, sent to
the minors Wednesday and then recalled Friday so he could attend
to a personal matter, was a healthy scratch. ... The Blackhawks
host Dallas on Tuesday in their first home game since Nov. 17.
... The Coyotes begin a four-game road trip Tuesday at Edmonton.
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