Blackhawks

Blackhawks ready to prove themselves against Coyotes

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Blackhawks ready to prove themselves against Coyotes

After their 5-2 victory in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks headed to Glendale, Ariz., where they'll face the Coyotes Sunday night. Catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet beginning at 8:30 with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

GLENDALE, Ariz. The Chicago Blackhawks first-round playoff series with the Phoenix Coyotes last season had a little bit of everything. Enough overtimes to fill a deadline writers nightmares, big hits some a little too big high drama, a good dose of venom and a couple of player suspensions.

Its intriguing stuff. And thanks to that six-game series that seemed so placid and harmless at the start, the Blackhawks and Coyotes are developing a little rivalry that continues tonight at Jobing.com Arena.

No, the Blackhawks-Coyotes isnt near the Blackhawks-Canucks matchups in terms of angst, bad blood and nastiness. OK, other than Blackhawks fans not being big on Raffi Torres, first for giving Brent Seabrook a concussion in the 2011 playoffs and then Marian Hossa last spring.

But theres still something there between the Hawks and Yotes, bred from the close and emotional series that led to another premature playoff end for the Blackhawks.

Ive always said if you play a team in the playoffs you all of a sudden have history with them. Even the next year, game by game, it gets more personal as it goes along, captain Jonathan Toews said. Theyll be ready to bounce back from their game (Saturday) and we have to do the same and be ready to play.

Patrick Sharp agreed.

Every time you face a team in the playoffs, theres always some bad blood, he said. Theyve got a lot of classy guys over there and theyre a respectful team. But theyre still the team that sent us home last year so we want to make sure we play our best.

For Hossa, the budding rivalry may take a bit of a backseat. His 2011-12 season ended in Game 3 with that Torres elbow to his head, and this is just his second game since then. Torres wont be playing tonight hes still serving seven more games from that 21-game suspension. And for Hossa, he doesnt look at this game as a hurdle to clear.

I dont think about it that way. Its just another game for me, said Hossa, who was asked about the potential emotional level tonight. To tell you the truth, I dont know what to expect. Im going to prepare as usual.

Andrew Shaw also had a front seat to last years series although he watched from afar for three of those games, his punishment for hitting Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith. He said this one could get feisty quick.

Every game gets a little snarly, he said. I just have to try to get under their skin, take pucks into dirty areas and hopefully contribute to the power play.

Blackhawks-Coyotes isnt Blackhawks-Canucks. But theres definitely some angst there that, as Toews said, could build with more matchups. Who knows if they could meet in the postseason again. Right now, the Blackhawks would settle for a little regular-season vindication.

Its the second game into the season and youre playing team that beat you in the playoffs, Shaw said. You cant wait to get at them.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night:
 
1. Surviving a crazy first period.

The Blackhawks committed four penalties in the opening frame within a 2:18 span, and escaped unscathed from it despite a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities for the Coyotes.

Of course, the only goal allowed in the period came from a fluke deflection off Jordan Oesterle's stick and slipped underneath Corey Crawford's five-hole.

Joel Quenneville likes to say the team that takes advantage of their 5-on-3 opportunities has a pretty good chance to win the game. It applied in this case, with the Blackhawks coming out victorious after surviving that stretch.

2. Power play comes alive early.

The Blackhawks got off on the right foot in an area that has been an issue for them this season, capitalizing on their first power play of the game 24 seconds into it when Richard Panik redirected a Jonathan Toews shot that tricked past Louis Domingue.

Good thing too, because it was the only man advantage they'd get. Well, excluding the power play they received with 17 seconds left in regulation when the game was already decided. 
 
3. Another controversial review in Arizona.

What's with it with controversial reviews in Arizona and the Blackhawks being on the wrong end of the call?

The Blackhawks appeared to have taken a 3-1 lead when Tommy Wingels converted on a penalty shot, but it was overturned after officials reviewed it and determined the Coyotes netminder got a stick on Wingels' initial shot. Replays didn't exactly show conclusive evidence, but the NHL released a statement proving otherwise:

Video review determined that Wingels shot the puck into the net after Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue made contact with the puck. According to Rule 24.2, "No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind."

Shortly after, the Coyotes scored in the final minutes of the period to even up the score at 2-2 in a big turn of events at the time.
 
4. ... But puck don't lie.

The overturned penalty shot didn't matter in the end though, because the Blackhawks came away with the victory and Wingels ended up getting his first goal after all on an empty netter that iced the game.

It was Wingels' first goal as a member of his hometown team, and it was well deserved for a guy who was part of the fourth line that turned in arguably their best performance of the season.
 
5. Lance Bouma rewarded with game-winning goal.

Speaking of which, it was fitting that Bouma scored the game winner with 4:24 left in the third period because that trio of Bouma, Wingels and John Hayden was around the net for the majority of the night.

They combined for two goals and two assists, had eight attempts shot attempts (five on goal), eight of the team's 16 hits and four blocked shots.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.