Behind a first period barrage of goals and some tremendous third period defense, the Chicago Blackhawks picked up their sixth straight victory on Saturday night when they knocked off the Phoenix Coyotes by a 4-2 score at Jobing.com Arena.
Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Brandon Bollig, and Marian Hossa all scored goals for the Hawks as they finished off their circus trip with a spectacular 6-1-0 record.
Against one of the best home teams in the league, the Blackhawks got off to a blazing start, and the Coyotes struggled to keep up. They committed two penalties in the first minute-plus of the hockey game, and Chicago made them pay early. Kane ended up deflecting a one-timer shot from the point by Marian Hossa to make it 1-0 Hawks.
After that goal, the Hawks continued to press the issue with all four lines, aggressively forechecking against the Coyotes and creating huge issues as the Phoenix blue liners tried to get the puck out of the defensive zone. Ben Smith played a huge part in a lot of that early pressure, and the fourth line as a whole did a great job of making life miserable for Mike Smith and company during the early stages of the first period.
The third line also stood up in a big way, and they got on the board thanks to some great sustained pressure. Collecting a loose puck in front of the net, Shaw did a nice job of flicking a backhanded shot towards Mike Smith, and the Phoenix goaltender ended up having the puck deflect off of his blocker and into the net to make it 2-0 Blackhawks.
The Hawks struck again shortly after the second goal, as Kane grabbed a puck in the corner and fired a picture perfect pass to Hjalmarsson. The Hawks’ defenseman was skating through an open seam in the slot, and his one time shot seemed to take Mike Smith by surprise, and with a snap of the fingers the Hawks were up 3-0 and were looking for more.
Unfortunately for the Hawks, they weren’t able to add any more goals despite the continued pressure, and even a late power play wasn’t enough to add to their lead. They made some great passes on a sustained sequence, but when Hossa tried to find Duncan Keith in the corner, the puck was swatted away by Phoenix, and the Hawks weren’t able to get another chance as they went into the intermission with a 3-0 lead.
Early in the second period, the Coyotes served notice that they weren’t going anywhere. On a great hometown guy play by Michael Stone, former Blackhawk farmhand Rob Klinkhammer tapped home an easy goal past Raanta to make it 3-1 Phoenix. On the play, Stone took the puck at the blue line, and fired a perfect bounce pass off the end boards that ended up right on Klinkhammer’s stick, and the capacity crowd at Jobing.com Arena roared its approval.
After several bad penalties by Niklas Hjalmarsson later in the period, the Coyotes struck again. Radim Vrbata was the one who got the play started as he chased down a puck along the side of the Hawks’ net, and Raanta over-committed to the near post. Seeing that, Martin Hanzal ended up outracing Oduya, and Vrbata’s pass found Hanzal’s stick as he tapped home the one-timer and brought the Coyotes to within one at 3-2.
The Blackhawks did get a short power play once again at the end of the period, but they weren’t able to get any sustained possession on the sequence, and they went into the second intermission with a 3-2 lead.
The third period got off to a much better start for the Hawks, as they held the Coyotes to just three shots on goal in the first 10 minutes of the frame. Several good quality chances for Chicago were also part of the mix, with the first and fourth lines once again getting in on the action quite a bit.
That fourth line for the Hawks finally got on the board in the third, as Smith won a board battle to get possession of the puck, and it found its way to the front of the net where Bollig lifted a shot over Mike Smith to make it 4-2 Blackhawks with about eight minutes left in the frame. Not to be outdone, the first line for the Hawks came back out and started pushing hard yet again, with a shot from Jonathan Toews hitting the goal post and Patrick Sharp getting a couple of crazy chances in front of the net.
Toews ended up putting a great pass on Hossa's stick towards the end of the game, and when Hossa was able to shed a Phoenix defender, he put the puck into the empty net to give the Hawks their 5-2 margin of victory.
The Hawks will look to defend their winning streak on Tuesday night when they return to the United Center to take on the Dallas Stars.