It was a playoff-like atmosphere inside Jobing.com Arena on Saturday night when the Chicago Blackhawks visited the Valley of the Sun. Unfortunately for the Phoenix Coyotes, they couldn't replicate their playoff success against the team from the Windy City.
A standing room only sell-out crowd of 17,321 attended Saturday's 5-2 win by Chicago over Phoenix - the largest crowd to attend a Coyotes game since January 20, 2013, also against the Blackhawks. It was announced on Friday that Saturday's game broke a franchise record for single game revenue.
Despite the pregame excitement surrounding this home game, a disastrous opening period doomed the Coyotes from the start. The home team found themselves down three goals in the first 11 minutes of the game and the already split crowd roared more and more in favor of the visiting Blackhawks.
"That's not how you win in this league," coach Dave Tippett said. That sentiment was echoed by Martin Hanzal who said the loss was "unacceptable" and that the team would have a hard time making the playoffs without playing a full 60-minute game.
The Coyotes made a valiant comeback in the second period only to fall short. Once again, Phoenix dug themselves a hole they could not crawl out of en route to their third consecutive home loss after starting the season 9-0-1.
"You can push back after being down 3-0; let's start the game on time," Tippett said.
Antti Raanta has now won his first two career NHL starts after stopping 32 of 34 shots. Mike Smith did not have his best game, allowing four goals on 35 shots including a couple he would would like to have back.
Tippett categorized Smith's performance as "very average" and added, "We needed him to be a real good player in the first period...that didn't happen."
With the loss, the Coyotes remain fourth in the Pacific Division with 34 points and a record of 15-7-4.
Phoenix's struggling penalty kill was put to the test early as they took a pair of penalties to put Chicago on a 5-on-3 power play very early in the first period. The Blackhawks capitalized as Patrick Kane deflected a Marian Hossa shot into the net. Duncan Keith assisted on Kane's goal to extend his point streak to seven games.
Chicago's hot start wouldn't end there as they put up two more in the first period to jump out to a 3-0 lead. Andrew Shaw back hand swatted a puck that bounced a handful of times before sneaking past Smith's right pad. A Niklas Hjalmarsson wrist shot through traffic found its way into the back of the net giving the Blackhawks a three-goal lead. They would take that lead and a 15-7 shot advantage into the first intermission.
The defensive pairing of Keith Yandle and Connor Murphy were on the ice for both of Chicago's even strength goals.
The Coyotes attempted a comeback, scoring the first goal of the second period. Michael Stone intentionally shot the puck wide of the net and it bounced off the boards and right onto the stick of Klinkhammer just to the right of the crease.
After more than 31 minutes without a power play, Phoenix was finally awarded a man advantage. After failing on their first power play, they brought the game within one with Hjalmarsson in the box. Hanzal finished a tic-tac-toe passing sequence between himself, Radim Vrbata and Mike Ribeiro to cut Chicago's lead to one.
Chicago awoke from their second period slumber to regain a multi-goal lead mid way through the third period with a goal from Brandon Bollig.
Phoenix was unable to get that third goal and allowed a Hossa empty netter to end the night.
The Blackhawks regulation win clinches the season series for Chicago against the Coyotes. Chicago's win streak was extended to six games.
- Chicago's perspective
- Saturday's game was the most attended Coyotes game (17,321) since January 20, 2013 - also against Chicago (17,363).
- Derek Morris played in his 500th career game with the Coyotes.
- Rob Klinkhammer has a point in all three games against his former team (Chicago).
- Phoenix's 17 second period shots tied a season high for shots in a period.
Our Three Stars of the Game
1. Antti Raanta: Stopped 32 of 34 shots and kept the team in the game.
2. Patrick Kane: Two points including the opening goal.
3. Duncan Keith: A pair of assists to extend his point streak.
After tonight's game, the Coyotes embark on a four-game road trip that will take them through western Canada and Colorado. The trip begins in Edmonton on Tuesday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.