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Chicago Blackhawks vs Phoenix Coyotes recap: shut out the champs

The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 on Friday night.

Jennifer Stewart

The Phoenix Coyotes came into the game with a simple task. All they had to do was find their consistency and beat one of the best teams in the NHL, the Chicago Blackhawks. Simple, right?

The Coyotes vanquished the reining Stanley Cup champions in front of 10 players from the 1980 U.S. mens Olympic hockey 'Miracle on Ice' team and a record-breaking sold-out crowd of 17,525.

While Phoenix will have to wait a few more games to find their consistency, goaltender Mike Smith appears to have found his. Smith put together his third consecutive solid start after his brief benching.

"If you look at some of the games that we've played and played well in, I thought today was one of the better ones. I thought we did a really good job all over the ice. Our forwards were awesome; obviously Smitty was great. I thought we did a good job letting him see pucks and not giving them so many opportunities," defenseman Keith Yandle said.

Smith stopped all 30 Chicago shots en route to his second shut out of the season. Phoenix was the first team to shut out the Blackhawks since 2012 (127 regular season games).

"It's the time of the season right now where it's go time," Smith said. "Obviously, you need to bring your A game to play against a team like (Chicago), so I think it's a great opportunity to rise to the occasion."

The Coyotes didn't need any miracles to pull off the victory, just the ability to capitalize on a pivotal moment.

There are moments in a hockey game where the atmosphere changes. Moments that dictate the outcome. One such moment happened at 17:46 of the second period of Friday's game.

Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad collided with Smith, a seemingly common occurrence when these two teams meet, drawing a penalty. A subsequent unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by former-Coyote Michal Rozsival gave the Coyotes a two-minute 5-on-3 with a one-goal lead.

Before the penalties, the Coyotes had fallen into the same trap that doomed them to defeats at the hands of Buffalo and Dallas, following a strong opening period with a lackluster second. This time around, the Coyotes were able to push the game along with Radim Vrbata's 5-on-3 goal, Phoenix's second power play goal of the night.

Poor penalty killing has plagued the Blackhawks all season and it did so again on Friday as they killed only three of five penalties.

On a night when so many Olympians were honored, Phoenix's two Olympic snubs stole the show offensively. Yandle and Vrbata, surprising non-Olympians, scored the only goals of the game. Yandle's power play goal 1:09 into the game would be the game-winner as the Yotes led almost the entire game (58:52).

The Coyotes never trailed.

Phoenix finds itself back in a playoff position for the first time in about a month. Its 64 points are good enough to jump the idle Vancouver Canucks., an opportunity they did not take advantage of on Tuesday.

"We'll just have to keep pounding away at it. We talked a lot today about just the individual battles, how you build a game, when you have a team like Chicago, if you're not willing to battle you're going to be behind and the Dallas game before that, hopefully we learned that from that game because we lost too many battles in that game that cost us the game. It was a good atmosphere in the building I was glad we went out and played well," Tippett said.

The Coyotes look forward to the opportunity to exact revenge on the Dallas Stars in Dallas Saturday night.

"We need that win desperately, we need it bad. So I think everybody knows, obviously, it's a big win tonight, but for us to be feeling good about ourselves and to be feeling good about where we're at we've got to have a good game tomorrow night in Dallas," Yandle said.

Paw Prints

  • Chicago's perspective
  • Advanced game stats
  • Antoine Vermette assisted on the game-winning goal, extending his point-streak to nine games.
  • Alice Cooper performed during the second intermission.
  • Derek Morris left the game with an upper-body injury and will not make the trip to Dallas.
  • Martin Hanzal missed the game due to illness but will be on the trip.
  • Smith will start in net against the Stars on Saturday.

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes play the Dallas Stars tomorrow night in Dallas in the last game before the Olympic break. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m.