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Chicago
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31-42-9
Phoenix
Coyotes
31-46-5

31 SOG
37 SOG
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Blackhawks-Coyotes Preview

Saturday, 03.10.2007 / 7:00 PM

Associated Press

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Blackhawks-Coyotes Preview
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes

To match their longest winning streak of the season, the Chicago Blackhawks could sure use another performance from Nikolai Khabibulin like his last one.

The Blackhawks go for their third straight victory when they visit a Phoenix Coyotes squad they've struggled against recently.

Chicago (25-33-9) has won consecutive games for the first time in a month thanks in part to Khabibulin recording his first regular-season shutout since March 1, 2004, while with Tampa Bay. Khabibulin made 26 saves for his 36th career shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

"It really was a long time since the last one," said Khabibulin, who signed a four-year, $27 million contract with Chicago in August 2005. "I don't know why, but I had that feeling that tonight was the night.

"I knew it was going to happen one of these nights sooner or later. It took longer than I anticipated and now it's over and maybe I'll have a few."

Khabibulin has two shutouts in eight career starts versus the Coyotes (27-37-3), going 5-2-1 with a 1.48 goals-against average against the franchise with which he started his career. That is his lowest GAA versus any opponent, but he is coming off his worst showing against them, allowing four goals on 17 shots in a 4-2 defeat on Jan. 7.

The 11-year veteran enters this matchup trying to help Chicago equal its season-high three-game winning streak, set from Nov. 29-Dec. 2.

The Blackhawks, however, have dropped all three meetings with the Coyotes this season, including two in shootouts, and five in a row overall. They'll try to end that slide and avoid a season high-tying fifth straight road loss when they open a five-game trip in Phoenix.

The Coyotes lost 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday to open a five-game homestand. They have dropped four in a row and 11 of 13 overall.

Leading scorer Shane Doan has been a bright spot, recording five goals and five assists during a seven-game point streak, including a goal and an assist Thursday.

Jeff Taffe, one of four Coyotes dressing for the sixth time or less this season, also scored against Vancouver. Taffe has two goals and two assists in six games since being called up from San Antonio of the AHL.

"It's not going to be fun and it's not going to be easy but in the end it's the right way," Coyotes coach Wayne Gretzky said of the recent youth movement. "We weren't doing that well with a $42 million dollar payroll so what difference does it make?"

The Coyotes sure aren't doing well on special teams at home lately, converting two of 34 power-play opportunities (5.9 percent) in their last seven contests there while thwarting just 24 of 33 opponents' chances (72.7 percent).

Blackhawks center Jason Williams played Tuesday despite a broken left toe, but defenseman Jim Wisniewski is out indefinitely after tearing a ligament in his right knee during that game.

2006-2007 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Mar 10 '07CHI 7 at PHX 5J. Hamilton
Jan 07 '07PHX 4 at CHI 2F. Sjostrom
Dec 07 '06PHX 2 at CHI 1 - SOS. Doan
Nov 16 '06CHI 2 at PHX 3 - SOL. Nagy
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GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%
PlayerGPGAP+/-PIMPPGW
GoalieGPRec.GASAGAASv%