(SportsNetwork.com) – The Chicago Blackhawks stayed above water on a recent
road trip and an extended stay at the United Center has the club hoping to
make a move up the Central Division standings.
The Blackhawks kick off an eight-game homestand on Monday night in a matchup
with the Arizona Coyotes.
Chicago rebounded to win the final two contests of a seven-game road trip,
going 4-3-0 on the swing. The ‘Hawks seemed in danger of losing ground in the
division race following back-to-back shutout losses to San Jose and Minnesota
on the trip, but recovered to beat Winnipeg and St. Louis.
The Blackhawks’ 4-3 win over the Blues on Sunday was crucial as they pulled
within four points of second-place St. Louis in the Central Division. Chicago
also is eight points back of first-place Nashville.
Marian Hossa scored twice in the third period versus the Blues, snapping a tie
with 8:41 to play with a power-play tally before scoring into an empty net.
Marcus Kruger and Bryan Bickell added goals and Corey Crawford came up with 25
“I thought we played real well in the third,” said Chicago coach Joel
Quenneville. “First and third were good, second was a little shaky.”
Chicago is 16-7-1 at home this season and will play at the United Center for
the first time since a 6-1 win over Arizona on Jan. 20. Andrew Shaw had two
goals, while Patrick Kane scored once and had a pair of assists.
Antti Raanta made 35 saves for the Blackhawks, while Mike Smith yielded six
goals on 51 shots in defeat.
Raanta figures to start tonight and he has beaten Arizona both times he has
faced them, making 67 saves on 70 shots faced.
Chicago has won three of four and five of its past seven versus Arizona
The Coyotes hope to avoid a third loss in a row tonight as they were bested
3-1 by the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday. Oliver Ekman-Larsson prevented his
club from getting shut out as he scored with 1:54 to play in regulation. It
was his career-high 16th goal of the season, most among all NHL defenseman
Smith stopped 25 shots in defeat as the Coyotes fell to 3-7-3 over their last
13 games. Their 45 points are the second fewest in the Western Conference.
“I thought we competed hard and we gave ourselves a chance,” said Arizona head
coach Dave Tippett.
The Coyotes will play in St. Louis on Tuesday and Smith is in line to start
both games of the back-to-back. He is 6-5-1 lifetime versus the Blackhawks
with a 3.01 goals against average, .914 save percentage and three shutouts in
12 games (11 starts).