The first period of the Coyotes/Blackhawks game started like you would think it would after watching the two teams first meeting earlier this season, with the Blackhawks appearing to be in control of the game with a strong defense. But as the period kept going I noticed, what was at first a subtle change, the Coyotes were having more shots on goal, the puck was spending more time in the Blackhawks zone, and the team was playing as strongly as I had seen them. And then at the 15:53 mark Daymond Langkow got the puck into the net with an unbelievable goal, making the score 1-0 Coyotes for the first period.
The second period in Coyotes kept up the pressure and intensity, with Doan scoring 9:54 minutes in and fighting off what could have been Blackhawks goals around 6 and 12 minutes in. The attempt around 12:41 was excellently saved by Smith with some major assistance by the defense keeping the score at 2-0 Coyotes. The second period also presented the first Power Play opportunity of the game, which matched a team with a bad Power Play goal record against the team with the worst Penalty kill in the league. Although the Coyotes were unable to capitalize on they did come close a couple of times, and it was definite improvement over some of the previous Power Plays.
Period three opened all Coyotes with Vrbata scoring 1:12 in and Whitney scoring at 5:02. After Whitney’s goal the arena saw an exodus of Chicago fans, including one amazing scene were a group of 4 Blackhawks fans next to a smiling Coyotes fan, perhaps one of my favorite moments of the game. At this point in the game we started to see a frustrated Chicago team, one that seemed eager to start fights with the winning team. At 7:37 into the third the Coyotes appeared to have scored their fifth goal of the evening, only to have to have the officials rule that the goal didn’t count because of movement to blow a whistle due to a situation with Langkow and Carcillo, both players were also called for cross checking which lead to 2 minutes of 4 on 4 hockey. Carcillo was soon called again for slashing leading to another Power Play, this one was less effective than the previous one, with Smith having to make some vital saves against the shorthanded Hawks. With 2:49 to go in the third Klesla was called for cross checking, which resulted in the Hawks first Power Play of the game. The Yote’s penalty kill was true to its reputation, however ten seconds after killing the penalty kill, Sharp managed to get one past Smith, leaving the final score 4-1.
Overall the Coyotes played one of their better games, defense was great, offense was amazing, and goaltending by Smith continues to be a major part of the Coyotes success. The one thing that could have been better was the Power Play, especially against a team like Chicago with their terrible PK record.