GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Blackhawks were relieved more than reveling late Thursday night.
For the first 20 minutes it looked like the desert air was good for what was ailing them. They were shooting, they were scoring – even on the power play – and they were manhandling the Arizona Coyotes in every facet of the game. But a bad second period had the Blackhawks clinging to a one-goal lead instead of playing with a three-goal one, and they found a way to hang onto it.
Patrick Kane scored a power-play goal, as did Marian Hossa, and the Blackhawks survived a terrible second period to beat the Coyotes 4-3 on Thursday. The Blackhawks remain in second in the Central Division, four points behind the Minnesota Wild. The Wild, who were idle on Thursday, still have three games in hand.
But the Blackhawks weren't in the most celebratory mood after this one. They'll take the two points and snapping a three-game losing streak. But terrible miscues in the second period turned what looked to be a lopsided game into one that ended up way too close.
"Just kind of let them back in the game. Gave it to them. We just can't do that against any team. That's one of the bottom teams in the league and they still come back," Corey Crawford said. "It's a good lesson for us."
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The lesson almost went unheeded. The Blackhawks were Dr. Jekyll through the first 20 minutes, Mr. Hyde in the next 20. Their first period may have been their best period of the season, and two power-play goals (Kane and Hossa) and Ryan Hartman's 11th goal of the season staked them to a 3-0 advantage.
Then came the second, and just 10 seconds into that the Blackhawks were on the penalty kill. Nine seconds after that they gave the Coyotes a two-man advantage on which Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored. Oh, and then there were the delay-of-game penalties. Three of them. In one period.
Asked if the second period was the Blackhawks' worst of the season, coach Joel Quenneville said, "it was the worst shooting the puck in the crowd."
"We gotta keep it in the building on three occasions there. Tough to lose momentum on plays like that," Quenneville said. "We played a great first period, great start to the game, had everything going, give up a 5-on-3 and almost got through it, but it got them going."
Trevor van Riemsdyk wouldn't say how blue the conversation got in the second intermission. He said the Blackhawks just took stock of where they were, despite that second.
"We just knew that we had a great first and the second wasn't according to the plan. But if you look at it from afar, one goal up on the road with a chance to win isn't a bad spot," he said. "You just kind of gotta look at it that way, come out and try to mirror that first period or just play the way we know we're supposed to [play]."
The Blackhawks eked one out. It was a night where they'll take the points, but they know a second period like that cannot happen.
"Big two points for us," Crawford said. "You want to play solid the whole game and I think that's just a good one for us to get two points and build off of all the positives."