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Phoenix Coyotes at Chicago Blackhawks Recap: The Champ Is Here

The late game magic finally ran out for the Coyotes, as they squandered a 4-3 third period lead and eventually fell to the Blackhawks 5-4 in the shootout.

Jonathan Daniel

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

The Coyotes give up early goals on the road and spend the majority of the game getting dominated in their own zone.  Mike Smith is left out to dry by the team in front of him, but makes big save after big save to keep the Yotes in the game.  Despite being thoroughly outplayed by the opponent, the Coyotes hang on and manage to squeeze a point out of a game they had no business being in.

As was the case Tuesday night in St. Louis, the Coyotes didn't play a very good game but salvaged a below average performance with two points. Unlike Tuesday, however, the Coyotes couldn't muster the late game heroics they have exhibited over the past two weeks as the Blackhawks ended the Coyotes five-game winning streak in overtime contests with a 5-4 shootout victory in the United Center.

The game got off to a rough start, as the Coyotes allowed the opening goal in yet another road contest.  The defense played soft through the neutral zone allowing Nick Leddy plenty of time to enter the zone and find Patrick Kane.  Kane's shot would be blocked, but Smith couldn't get to the rebound, partly because Brandon Pirri was in the crease on top of him.  Brandon Saad would take advantage and put the rebound in the net to give the defending Stanley Cup Champs a 1-0 lead 2:37 into the game.  It wouldn't get better for the Coyotes as Michael Stone would be sent to the penalty box and the fifth ranked Chicago power play would strike quickly.  Patrick Sharp's blast from the point would beat a screened Smith 16 seconds into the power play for a 2-0 Hawk lead just 6:22 into the contest.

The Coyotes would rally as they have all season though.  Stone would redeem himself for the penalty, getting a shot through traffic to cut the lead in half with 13:57 left in the first.  David Moss would draw a penalty on Marian Hossa at the Blackhawk blueline, and it was the Coyotes' turn for some special team goodness.  Keith Yandle's shot would go wide of the net and ricochet of the boards to Shane Doan who would roof it over Corey Crawford.  After review, the goal was upheld and the Yotes evened the score at two 14 seconds into their own power play.  Moments later, the Coyotes would get a four minute power play chance after Brandon Bollig (what's with Brandons playing for Chicago, seriously?) would argue a holding call and get an unsportsmanlike conduct call to boot.  It would all go for naught, as Phoenix would squander the advantage.

The 2-2 scoreline would hold until the second period when Marian Hossa would put the Hawks in front.  Hossa put a shot right off Smith's helmet and beat Yandle to the rebound and beat Smith to make it 3-2.  Again, the resilient Coyotes would bounce back, this time to take the lead.  Lauri Korpikoski would put a rebound under Crawford's pads while falling to the ice to tie the game, then Michael Stone would add his second with a wicked wrist shot from the top of the right circle to make the score 4-3.

Given the Coyotes' strength in the third period this season, a victory would seem to be likely at this point, but for the second straight game, Phoenix found themselves spending the entire final stanza staggering on their heels.  Oliver Ekman-Larsson would get whistled for holding the stick 56 seconds into the third and the Blackhawk power play went back to work.  It looked as if the Coyotes would survive it when David Moss blocked a Nick Leddy shot from the point, but Jeff Halpern couldn't get to the puck for the clear.  The puck would get back to Brent Seabrook as the penalty on OEL ended, but Seabrook would shoot and Pirri would redirect from just in front of Smith, putting the puck between his legs for the game tying goal.  Chicago would pour on the pressure from there, getting chance after chance, but couldn't find the formula to beat Smith.  The Coyotes would survive regulation to earn their 29th point of the season.

After another five minutes of Chicago dominance, the shootout would be needed to find a winner.  Jonathan Toews would put Smith on the ice and sliding into his own post to start the shootout positively for the Hakws.  Antoine Vermette shot wide and Smith would stop Sharp.  Radim Vrbata would once again okie-doke a goalie, faking his patented forehand-backhand move and beating Crawford on the forehand.  After initially being ruled no goal, the review clearly showed the shot going off the right post and into the top of the net.  Shootout wunderkind Patrick Kane couldn't get the puck past Smith's pad and Corey Crawford played Mikkel Boedker perfectly.  Brandon Pirri would once again provide a huge play in this game, scoring on his first career NHL shootout attempt.  Mike Ribeiro would be the Coyotes last chance but his shot would ring off the crossbar over Crawford's shoulder.  The Blackhawks won 5-4 and outshot the Coyotes 52-30 in the process.

The Coyotes lost the game, but did manage to get three out of a possible four points on the trip.  While the games may not have been well played from a Phoenix perspective, it's important that they have managed to bank points in games where they haven't played their best.  The next step is to start playing better and finishing games before overtime.

Paw Prints

  • With tonight's results, the Coyotes have now been outshot by at least 20 shots in three of their last four road games.  In that time, they have given up 170 shots and only taken 105.  That can't continue.
  • Mike Smith earned his 4th minor penalty tonight when he and Andrew Shaw were given matching minors in the third period.  Shaw ran Smith in the crease and Smith didn't like it, grabbing him by the head.  For those with short memories, this is not the first time these two have met:
  • The Coyotes spent most of the second period and all of the third and overtime with only five defensemen.  Zbynek Michalek left the game with a lower body injury and didn't return.
  • The face-off circle wasn't kind to the Coyotes on this night, as they only won 32 of 70 draws.  Antoine Vermette (11 of 28, 39%) and Mike Ribeiro (2 of 12, 17%) had rough nights, but Martin Hanzal returned to the lineup with a stellar performance, winning 15 of 20 face-offs.
  • Duncan Keith led all players in ice time, playing 27:36 and adding an assist.  Along with his first career two goal game, Michael Stone led Phoenix with 26:09 of on ice time. 

Our Three Stars of the Game

1.  Mike Smith. He stopped 48 of 52 shots and was much better on the puck tonight than against St. Louis.  He also spent alot of the night with a Blackhawk player banging into him in the crease without a call.

2.  Marian Hossa. He had a goal and led all players with six shots on the game.  He was a general menace all game long and drew the penalty that allowed the Hawks to tie the game.  His own penalty was the only thing keeping him from earning the top star.

3.  Brent Seabrook. He had two assists, including the shot that set up the game tying goal.  Also added five shots and four blocked shots and was all around the ice in the offensive zone.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes return home to Glendale to take on the Eastern Conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning.  A game that should be very entertaining will be missing a little luster with the unfortunate injury to Steven Stamkos.  The Lightning did the Coyotes a solid tonight with a win over Anaheim.  The puck drop is scheduled for 6:00 pm Arizona time and will be broadcast on Fox Sports Arizona.  Don't forget to tailgate.

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