Blackhawks Fall to Phoenix in Familiar Fashion
This story is becoming more and more familiar.
Despite rallying to erase a 3-0 deficit to tie the game late in the second period, the Chicago Blackhawks were unable to finish off a hard-working Phoenix Coyotes club in the shootout, losing 4-3.
Both Oliver Ekman-Larsson and former Blackhawk Radim Vrbata scored for Phoenix in the shootout, while red-hot Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews missed the net and Marian Hossa was stopped on his initial shot attempt (the only one that counts).
It's difficult to pin-down the puzzling play of Blackhawks netminder, Corey Crawford, who struggled last night after a fairly solid start to the game. However, he was pulled for back-up Ray Emery after allowing 3 goals on 16 shots. Despite the fact that at least one of the goals Crawford had absolutely no chance in stopping, he was on a short leash last night with head coach Joel Quenneville. Fortunately for Chicago, Emery gave the Blackhawks a chance to rally, which they did with incredible fervor.
Phoenix got on the board early in the first period with a nice 2 on 1 conversion by agitator Raffi Torres set up by Mikkel Boedker.
The Blackhawks did a good job of pushing back with several good chances created by sustaining offensive pressure, only to then turn the puck over in their own zone down low and allow veteran Ray Whitney generate a rebound which Radim Vrbata put home to make it 2-0 Coyotes at the end of the period.
Keith Yandle then made it 3-0 for Phoenix early in the 2nd period as he converted a heavy slap shot from the point. A few minutes later, Jonathan Toews essentially began to take over this game in an effort to give his team a chance to win. He did just that.
Grabbing a rebound off of a fancy pass attempt by Patrick Kane, Toews did exactly what he should have done - he shot the puck in the slot. This was the start of the Chicago rally and it was clear the Blackhawks weren't going down without a fight.
Toews then scored again on a fantastic re-direct shot from the point by Duncan Keith to convert on the power play, exactly what they needed when they needed it. It was a back-breaking goal for Phoenix who continued to struggle in the second to keep Chicago out of their own zone.
With under seven minutes to play in the 2nd period, Toews jump started a two on one into the Coyotes' zone and fed Patrick Kane a perfect pass right across the crease just as Keith Yandle attempted to slide into the passing lane. Yandle's block was unsuccessful and Patrick Kane scored his eighth goal of the season to tie the game at three apiece.
The 3rd period proved to be a very exciting one as both teams exchanged scoring chances but were unable to finish. Viktor Stalberg had several point blank opportunities that he couldn't complete and Marian Hossa nearly won the game for Chicago, but failed to lift the puck over a Phoenix defender and into a wide open net to put his team up for good.
Jonathan Toews was a man on a mission last night, posting 2 goals and 1 assist, to become the NHL's goal-scoring leader with 17. He currently leads his team in points with 32 in 28 games. Patrick Kane also had a nice game last night for Chicago, turning out a 2 point effort (1 g, 1 a).
There is no question that the defensive effort was still not up to par last night, especially against a team that is not known for it's offensive punch. The Coyotes traditionally find wins in low-scoring games with solid defensive efforts. Despite the fact that the Blackhawks remain at the top of the NHL in scoring, their lack of attention to details continually shoots them in the foot.
The Blackhawks rally effort was laudable, but bittersweet in the end as they were unable to come away with the full two points.
The Chicago Blackhawks head to Long Island for their next game against the New York Islanders in a rematch from last week's shootout win in Chicago. Catch the game on CSN-Chicago or MSG-Plus at 6 pm CT.