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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Saturday, February 11th (All times Eastern)

Chicago Blackhawks (29-19-7) at Phoenix Coyotes (26-21-8), 8:30 p.m.

(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Coyotes will try to extend their season-high win streak to five games when they host the sliding Chicago Blackhawks in tonight's clash at Jobing.com Arena.

Phoenix has posted four straight victories for the first time since its last five-game winning streak from March 10-18 of last season. The hot streak has helped lift the Coyotes into the eighth and final playoff seed in the Western Conference, where Phoenix leads Dallas and Colorado by just one point. Minnesota and Calgary are only two points behind the Coyotes in the crowded West.

Meanwhile, Chicago has fallen down to sixth in the West thanks to an 0-6-1 slide that began before the All-Star break. The Blackhawks are five points ahead of Phoenix in the conference standings.

Coyotes captain Shane Doan came through with a dramatic goal in Phoenix's most recent victory, as he scored the game-winner in overtime to lift his club to a 2-1 decision over the visiting Calgary Flames on Thursday.

Calgary's Mikael Backlund was whistled for tripping 2:07 into the extra frame and the Coyotes took advantage of the penalty with the game-winner when Radim Vrbata fed a pass from the right of the net to the top of the left circle, where Doan blasted a one-timer past Leland Irving.

Taylor Pyatt scored in regulation for the Coyotes, while Mike Smith stopped 22-of-23 shots in the win.

"You've got to find ways to get points," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "It was just not a pretty game at all so we'll take the points, stick those in the bank and move on."

The victory improved Phoenix to 13-10-4 on home ice this year and the Coyotes are wrapping a brief two-game residency tonight. Following today's tilt, the Coyotes will play four of their next six games away from the desert.

Chicago's last four setbacks have come in regulation and the Blackhawks were dealt a 5-3 loss Friday night in San Jose. Benn Ferriero's goal early in the third period proved to be the winner for the Sharks, who sent Chicago to its seventh straight defeat.

Marcus Kruger scored twice in the loss, while Bryan Bickell also lit the lamp for Chicago, which is in the midst of its worst skid since an 0-6-2 stretch from Dec. 30-Jan. 11 during the 2007-08 season. The Blackhawks also fell to 0-4-1 on a season-long nine-game road trip and Joel Quenneville's club is now just 10-13-3 as the guest this season.

"We know we can win hockey games. We have got a good team, but we just have to get our confidence back," Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa said after Friday's loss. "We have to play a team game. We win as a team and we lose as a team."

Corey Crawford allowed all five goals on 27 shots to take the loss on Friday and Ray Emery could get the start tonight.

Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson sat out Friday's game with flu-like symptoms and is also questionable for tonight. Hjalmarsson has one goal, 11 assists and a plus-five rating in 54 games this season.

This evening's tilt marks the fourth and final scheduled meeting between the Coyotes and Blackhawks this year. Phoenix has taken two straight from Chicago since losing the season series opener at Jobing.com Arena on Oct. 18. The Coyotes have won four of seven overall in this series, but Chicago has taken two straight on the road.

02/11 11:11:32 ET


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