Blackhawks cruise past Coyotes
Patrick Kane had another big night and the Chicago Blackhawks won again.
The fact that they exacted a bit of revenge on Raffi Torres and routed the Phoenix team that ousted them from last season’s playoffs only made it sweeter.
Kane had two goals and an assist, and the Blackhawks remained the only NHL team without a loss in regulation this season by beating the Coyotes 6-2 Thursday night.
Viktor Stalberg, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell each had a goal and an assist as the Blackhawks improved to 9-0-2. Dave Bolland also scored for Chicago.
”We feel good right now,” coach Joel Quenneville said. ”We’ve been consistent in our games. We got a lot of contributions from a lot of guys. It seems like the chemistry and the mood of the room is as good as you can get, and it’s reflected in our play.”
The evening began, as anyone paying attention should have anticipated, with Chicago’s Jamal Mayers fighting Torres, in his third game back after a 21-game suspension for a vicious hit on the Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa in last year’s playoffs.
”A good fight there,” said Patrick Sharp, who had three assists. ”It definitely fired us up and got us going.”
A few moments later, Chicago led 4-0 and this one was over.
Martin Hanzal and Torres scored for the Coyotes. Phoenix pulled goalie Mike Smith after Bickell scored Chicago’s sixth goal with 4:52 left in the second period.
Kane’s goals both came with a 5-on-3 advantage in Chicago’s four-goal first period. Kane has eight goals and 10 assists on the season and is chasing the league scoring lead.
”I don’t know,” he said. ”Sometimes you just get on a roll and it keeps going. I just try to keep worrying about playing hockey and staying focused. It’s been a fun season so far. The team’s playing good. It’s always nice scoring goals when you’re winning.”
The Blackhawks, who lost to the Coyotes in six games in last season’s playoffs, scored a half-dozen goals for the second time against Phoenix this season. They won in Arizona 6-4, also with Smith in goal, in the second game of the year on Jan. 20. Those are Chicago’s two highest-scoring games of the season.
Ray Emery made 22 saves on an easy night. He is 3-0-0 this year with two wins over Phoenix.
The Coyotes had won nine straight at home, going 13-0-2 overall, in February since 2011. They came in with at least a point in five straight games and victories in their last two, but they were overwhelmed in a first period that, for them, was as bad as it gets.
”When you give up five power-play opportunities, you give up one soft goal, two 5-on-3 goals and one where we had nobody willing to cover anybody anywhere close,” coach Dave Tippett said, ”and you put them up by a score like that, it makes it kind of an uphill battle the rest of the night.”
Cheered on by their usual boisterous fans in Phoenix, the Blackhawks outshot the Coyotes 17-4 in the first period.
”I hope that’s a blip on the radar screen,” Tippett said, ”because there’s a lot of stuff right there that is not going to be happening on our team.”
Phoenix had seven penalties in the period, capped by a 10-minute misconduct against Keith Yandle for his behavior as he left the penalty box, where he had been placed for unsportsmanlike conduct 2 minutes earlier.
Stalberg started the Blackhawks’ early onslaught, taking a slick assist from Andrew Shaw and backhanding the puck past Smith.
The Blackhawks scored three times in the final 5:08 of the period.
Chicago was 21 seconds into its first 5-on-3 advantage when Kane scored. Toews knocked the puck out of a scrum in front to Kane, who tapped it into an open net with Smith sprawled on the ice.
Bolland’s goal with an assist from Kane made it 3-0 with 2:26 left in the first. Then, with another 5-on-3 edge, Kane knocked a left-handed one-timer inside the post and Chicago led 4-0 with 1:35 to go in the first.
Hanzal’s fifth goal of the season, on a power play, 5:19 into the second ruined the shutout. But goals by Toews and, finally, Bickell from in front of the net on a centering pass from Stalberg, made it 6-1 and Tippett called it a night for Smith, who had given up one goal in the previous two games. He was sent to the bench in favor of Jason LaBarbera.
Torres and Mayers squared off 2:35 into the game. Then that story line evaporated in the face of the Chicago romp.
Torres’ goal came with 1:25 to play.
NOTES: Chicago wraps up its season-high six-game road trip Sunday in Nashville. … Kane is 13 short of 400 career points. … Phoenix’s Rostislav Klesla missed his ninth straight game with a lower-body injury. … Kane entered third in the NHL in points (15). … Smith has allowed 12 goals against Chicago and eight against every other team he’s faced.