The Blackhawks improved their overall record to an incredible 9-0-2 after overwhelming the Phoenix Coyotes last night 6-2 at the Jobing.com arena in Glendale, Arizona.
The outcome of the contest was never in doubt, as the Blackhawks jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first period. Goals came from Viktor Stalberg (3) and Dave Bolland (4), as well as two goals from the red hot Patrick Kane (7, 8).
Both of Kane’s goals came in the first period and on 5-on-3 power plays, as the Coyotes committed a total of nine penalties on the evening.
The first of Kane’s goals came at 14:52 of the first period, when Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews became engaged in a scramble for a loose puck in front of the net. The puck eventually became free, with help from Toews, and right into the wheelhouse of a well positioned Kane who buried a wrist shot into a wide open net.
The second of Kane’s goals came at 18:52 of the first period, when Duncan Keith passed the puck down low to Patrick Sharp, who sent a cross-ice pass to a waiting Kane, who sent a one-timer past Phoenix netminder Mike Smith.
Phoenix’s Martin Hanzal made it a 4-1 game, at 5:19 of the second period, with a power play goal off a perfectly executed redirect in front of Ray Emery, who was screened and didn’t stand a chance of making a save.
The Blackhawks struck right back with goals from Toews and Bryan Bickell to close out the second period.
Toews’ goal was highlight of the week worthy (at least), as he deked past Phoenix’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who Toews made look like he was standing still, and put a perfectly placed shot through the legs of Smith. The goal was Toews fifth of the season.
Phoenix’s Mike Smith, who made a dismal 12 saves on 16 shots, was eventually pulled from the game in favor of Jason LaBarbera, who stopped all 7 shots he would face.
Blackhawks’ back-up goaltender Ray Emery made 18 saves on 19 shots faced. With the win, he improved his season record to 3-0-0, with a .920 save percentage and 2.59 GAA.
Both Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp had three point games. Kane with two goals and one assist, and Sharp with three assists. Patrick Kane was awarded first star of the game honors.
Prior to last night’s game, much was made of the return of tough guy Raffi Torres to the Coyotes’ lineup. The last time he faced the Blackhawks was last year during the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs when he sent Marian Hossa off the ice on a stretcher after an illegal hit, which he was subsequently suspended for.
The Blackhawks dealt with the issue of Torres right from the get go, as Chicago tough guy Jamal Mayers engaged him in a fight just 2 minutes and 35 seconds into the game. Both players got in a few blows, but overall both combatants were a bit off balance and fell to the ice quickly before a winner could be determined.
While the battle between Mayers and Torres may have gone undecided, it was the Blackhawks who clearly won the war where it counts, on the scoreboard, at the end of the game.
The Blackhawks wrap up a six game road trip on Sunday night when they face the Predators (5-2-3) in Nashville, TN. The puck will drop at 7:00 CST.