The story of the night was the return of Max Domi to the Arizona Coyotes’ lineup, which was confirmed shortly before puck drop. Domi missed the last 23 games after suffering a hand injury during a fight against the Calgary Flames. Arizona went 8-14-1 during his absence.
But the return of one of Arizona’s stars was quickly overshadowed by a disastrous first period showing by the Sedona Red, giving up two Power Play goals and another at even strength, finishing the opening period down 3-0.
The Coyotes managed to turn the tide in the second period, scoring three goals of their own while only conceding one to the Blackhawks. However, the experienced Chicago side, some desperate defense and some key saves by Corey Crawford allowed the Blackhawks to escape with a 4-3 victory over the Coyotes.
1-0 Chicago - While Mike Smith was screened by Richard Panik, Patrick Kane was allowed too much time and space on the Power Play and perfectly placed his shot in off the left post. Assists to Duncan Keith and Jonathan Toews at 8:44.
2-0 Chicago - Moments later, with the Coyotes scrambling and seven or eight bodies in front of Smith, a Ryan Hartman slap shot finds its way through the traffic as well as Smith’s five-hole. Assists to Keith and Andrew Desjardins at 9:56.
3-0 Chicago - Coming in with built up speed on the Power Play, Marian Hossa dances his way between Connor Murphy and Alex Gologoski before finishing with a nice dangle and the Blackhawks’ second goal with a man advantage for the night. Assists to Artemi Panarin and Brent Seabrook at 14:15.
3-1 Arizona - With back to back penalties to start the 2nd period for the Blackhawks, Arizona found themselves with a 5 on 3 Power Play opportunity. After maintaining possession and executing some great passing with good scoring opportunities, Oliver Ekman-Larsson is finally able to solve Corey Crawford for his 10th goal of the season. Assists to Radim Vrbata and Michael Stone at 1:36.
4-1 Chicago - Back at even strength and the Blackhawks resume control. Ryan White fanned on a pass in the Coyotes’ offensive zone and Chicago rushed back the other way. Artem Anisimov found a way to make a pass under pressure to a wide open Panarin who ripped a slap shot into the corner of the goal. Assists to Anisimov and Kane at 5:24.
4-2 Chicago - On his 21st birthday, right in front of Crawford, Christian Dvorak tipped in a shot made from the point by captain Shane Doan. Assists to Shane Doan and Brendan Perlini.
4-3 Chicago - With Panik and Ekman-Larsson in the box for incidental minor penalties, Brendan Perlini takes advantage of some extra space during the 4 on 4 play, throwing the puck on net from behind the right circle. On it’s way toward Crawford, the puck hit Duncan Keith and bounced unpredictably in for the Coyotes. Assists to Christian Dvorak and Alex Goligoski at 15:51.
No scoring in the third period has the Coyotes out-shot the Blackhawks seven to six, but Chicago managed to tighten the leash enough to hold onto their lead and leave Arizona with the win.
1. Can the Coyotes crack the Blackhawks? Unfortunately not. The awful first period indicates that Arizona probably isn't entering their games against Chicago with the right mindset, though once in the thick of it and down by 3 goals, the Coyotes did manage to make some adjustments that created an opportunity for them to get back in the game.
2. Can the Coyotes beat Crawford? They beat him three times as Crawford finished with an ugly .889 save % but he made key saves when the Coyotes were coming their hardest and earned the win the hard way.
3. Will The Coyotes keep making progress? Yes. Of course the start of the game was a disaster and ultimately cost Arizona the match. But fighting back from 3-0 down and controlling the play for the second half of the night shows character. There are both negatives and positives the Coyotes can take from this game and it will aid them in continuing to make progress.
Players of the Game
Chicago - Corey Crawford - Despite the ease at which he started the game, and the ugly stats he finished with, Crawford made big saves when the Coyotes were coming in hardest. When his Blackhawk teammates were taking the foot off the pedal and letting Arizona back in the game, Crawford stood tall and said ‘No’ - ultimately winning his team the match.
Arizona - Christian Dvorak - Started the comeback with a goal in the 2nd period and then continued to fuel the fire by assisting on Perlini’s goal. All on his 21st birthday. Dvorak is quietly having a nice rookie season and has become a very defensively responsible center.
- For more on the Chicago Blackhawks, check out Second City Hockey.
- Max Domi was a game day decision to play against the Blackhawks tonight but was out on the ice for warm-ups indicating he was going to return against Chicago:
.@ArizonaCoyotes forward @max_domi is on the ice for warm-ups. No Josh Jooris and no Peter Holland. Looks like he's a go for tonight!— Dave Vest (@davest4yotes) February 3, 2017
- Domi’s return and his place in the lineup was then confirmed by the Arizona Coyotes:
Welcome back Max! #CHIvsARI pic.twitter.com/bw1qGTVExx— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) February 3, 2017
- As a result of Domi’s return, Josh Jooris was a healthy scratch alongside Peter Holland and Kevin Connauton.
- Midway through the second period, Mike Smith broke the record for most saves in the franchise at 8,056.
- Attendance: 17,125.
Arizona will now go on a brief, one game road trip, visiting their Pacific Division Rivals the San Jose Sharks on Saturday night. Puck drop is at 8:30pm Arizona time and can be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona Plus or tuned in to on ESPN Phoenix 620 AM.