NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Sunday, March 20th
(All times eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (38-25-8) at Phoenix Coyotes (39-23-11), 7 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The surging Phoenix Coyotes will aim for a sixth straight
victory tonight, when they welcome the struggling Chicago Blackhawks to
In addition to winning their last five games, the Coyotes have recorded a
point in seven consecutive contests, posting a 6-0-1 record over that span.
As a result of the hot streak, Phoenix currently finds itself as the fourth
seed in the Western Conference and is also just three points behind San Jose
for the Pacific Division lead.
Chicago, meanwhile, has lost four of its last five games and was routed in
Dallas on Thursday night. The Blackhawks had won eight straight games prior to
their current 1-2-2 stretch.
The Blackhawks are just five points in back of Phoenix in the West standings,
but the defending Stanley Cup champions are tied with Nashville for the
conference's final two playoff seeds.
Dallas is one point ahead of the Blackhawks in the sixth spot and Chicago was
slammed by the Stars, 5-0, on Thursday.
Kari Lehtonen made 23 saves to lead Dallas to the shutout victory at American
Airlines Center. The setback marked the first time the Blackhawks lost by more
than a one-goal margin since they dropped a 3-1 decision in Calgary on Feb. 7.
Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford was pulled early in the second period
after allowing three goals on 10 shots. Former Stars netminder Marty Turco
turned away 15 shots in relief.
Dallas opened the scoring late in the first period and the Stars added two
goals in each of the next two stanza.
"I'm not a psychologist...I don't know why we decide to pack it in like that,"
admitted Chicago captain Jonathan Toews. "I'm not pointing the finger at
anyone else, I'm included."
Hawks forward Brian Bickell and defenseman Brian Campbell are questionable for
today's contest. Bickell was a late scratch from Thursday's game due to an
illness and Campbell has sat out the last two tests with an injured left leg.
Meanwhile, Chicago center Dave Bolland is still sidelined indefinitely with a
The Blackhawks have lost four straight on the road and are 16-11-8 as the
guest this season. Chicago has also dropped three in a row and six of its last
10 road games against the Coyotes.
Phoenix has taken two of three from Chicago this season and five of the last
seven in the series. All three encounters between the clubs in 2010-11 have
been decided by one goal.
The Coyotes earned their fifth straight win against the Western Conference's
top team and also halted Vancouver's seven-game winning streak in the process.
Phoenix backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera made 46 saves to help the Coyotes
beat the Canucks, 3-1, in Vancouver.
"I haven't played a whole lot lately," said LaBarbera. "I just had to focus
and I just wanted to contribute and give the guys a chance to win tonight."
Phoenix is expected to start No. 1 netminder Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes
tonight. Bryzgalov is 1-0-1 with a 2.31 goals-against average in two games
against Chicago this season.
Radim Vrbata, Shane Doan and Lee Stempniak scored goals in the third period
for the Coyotes. Doan enters tonight riding a seven-game point streak and has
four goals and six helpers during the run.
The Coyotes have also won their last five home games and have a 17-11-6 record
as the host this season.
03/20 11:04:57 ET