Blackhawks return home to face Coyotes
After breaking even on their circus road trip, the Chicago Blackhawks are about to get reacquainted with the United Center.
The Blackhawks' first game back in the Windy City tonight will be a tough one as they take on the Phoenix Coyotes, a club that has played well on the road this season.
Chicago won the final two contests of its six-game swing to wrap up the trek with a 3-3-0 record. The Blackhawks will now play two in a row at home and will see 18 of their next 24 contests take place at the United Center, where they have won five of their last six and are 7-1-2 on the season.
Captain Jonathan Toews recorded four goals and six assists over the road trip and has netted the game-winner in the Blackhawks' last two games. His fourth game-winning goal of the season came in the second period of Saturday's 2-1 victory at Los Angeles as he snapped home a shot from the left side after gathering the puck off the backboards.
"You can't ask for anything easier than that," said Toews on his goal. "It bounced off the wall and I was there to put it in. In some ways this was our best game on the trip. All around we played a good game."
Corey Crawford made 26 saves and Andrew Brunette also scored for Chicago, which is 9-0-1 when scoring first this season.
The Coyotes will try to not fall behind against the Blackhawks and the easiest way to do that is to duplicate their 3-0 victory over the Stars on Saturday. Mike Smith made 26 saves for his second shutout of the season and 13th of his career as Phoenix went 2-1 on a three-game homestand.
"We've lost games in the last minute several times this year and to get a shutout tonight was big for us," said Smith.
Ray Whitney, Mikkel Boedker and Taylor Pyatt each scored for the Coyotes, who were coming off a 5-0 loss against Vancouver on Friday and will play two straight and five of their next six on the road. They are 6-3-1 as the visiting club this season.
Phoenix got a boost with the return of Daymond Langkow, who had missed the previous eight games following the death of his mother. Langkow notched two assists in his first game since Nov. 5.
"I can't say enough good things about him as a man, let alone as a hockey player," Shane Doan said of Langkow. "The type of personality that he has and the type of person that he is and the strength that he has is remarkable."
The Blackhawks have won their last three meetings with the Coyotes, including a 5-2 victory at Phoenix on Oct. 18 in the first of four encounters this year. Five different skaters scored for Chicago, including Toews and Marian Hossa, while Crawford needed to make only 14 saves.
Whitney and Taylor Pyatt had the Phoenix goals and Jason LaBarbera allowed five goals on 35 shots for a Coyotes club that has lost six of its last eight at the United Center.
Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville and Coyotes bench boss Dave Tippett know each other well, having spent six seasons together as players with the Hartford Whalers from 1983-90.