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by Staff Writer / Arizona Coyotes

Chicago at Phoenix
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Blackhawks-Coyotes Game Recap

By Sergey Kocharov
Photos by Norm Hall

Time is now of the essence for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Marin Lapointe scored the game-winning goal and Craig Anderson made 23 saves as the Chicago Blackhawks handed the Coyotes a crucial 3-1 loss on a Tuesday night at Glendale Arena.

"It's a devastating loss for us," said Coyote Left Wing Geoff Sanderson. "We're running out of time and points. This is a very tough one to swallow. We have to be a much tougher team to play against than we showed tonight."

Sanderson scored the lone Coyote goal in the opening period and Curtis Joseph made 29 saves for Phoenix, which dropped to 2-3-1 on the current franchise-record 10-game homestand and are now nine points behind the Edmonton Oilers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference standings.

"It is extremely disappointing," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan. "We had a chance at home to make a stand and we haven't done it. We had six games at home and we haven't taken care of business. When you do that you don't deserve to be in the playoffs."

Sanderson broke the scoreless tie in the first period after taking a pass from Zbynek Michalek on the power play. Sanderson - who was parked in front of the net - received a quick pass from Michalek then turned around and beat Anderson with a swift snapshot to register his ninth point in the last 12 games.

"I was just in the right spot at the right time," said Sanderson. "Michalek made a great pass and I was alone in the slot and I was able get it past him."

Chicago opened the second period with two goals in a 1:14 second span to take a 2-1 lead. Radim Vrbata notched his eighth goal of the season when he tipped Mathew Barnaby's shot from the point that found its way past Joseph. Martin Lapointe followed shortly after when he connected on a beautiful backdoor play with Brent Seabrook.

"We were stingy tonight, more effectively defensively," said Lapointe. "Guys were scared to get caught in the zone, which was good because guys wanted to get the puck out on the offense."

The Blackhawks took a two-goal lead midway though the third period when Mark Bell tipped Tyler Arnason's shot while a five-on-three power play. The Coyotes appeared to inch within a goal on Keith Ballard's rebound attempt just moments later but for the third time in the last three games the goal was waved off by the referee as the whistle was blown before the puck had cleared the goal line.

"We were definitely flat," said Mike Johnson. "We had to make it a harder game for them and we made it an easy one. We are aware of the standings and are aware of how many games have left. We have to take one game at a time."

Boyd Devereaux (ankle) and Jamie Lundmark (upper body muscle strain) missed their second consecutive game with injuries. Defenseman Denis Gauthier was also scratched for the Coyotes. 

Andy Hilbert did not play for the Blackhawks.

Injured Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, was a member of the Coyotes/Jets from 1994-95 to 1998-99 after being chosen as the Jets' eighth choice in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft. Khabibulin is the Coyotes' all-time leader in shutouts (21) and ranks second among goaltenders in franchise history in wins (126).

The Coyotes will return to Glendale Arena on Thursday night to host the Pacific Division leaders, the Dallas Stars. The game is set for 7:00 p.m.

Phoenix Coyotes Associate Coach Rick Tocchet was not behind the bench for Tuesday night's contest against the Chicago Blackhawks as he was traveling to the East Coast to meet with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
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