Photo Credit: Norm Hall
COYOTES STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Jeff Taffe - (C) Steven Reinprecht - (RW) Shane Doan
(D) Keith Ballard - (D) Derek Morris
BLACKHAWKS STARTING LINE-UP
(LW) Radim Vrbata - (C) Jason Williams - (RW) Martin Havlat
(D) Brent Seabrook - (D) Cam Barker
Phoenix - Mikael Tellqvist
Chicago - Nikolai Khabibulin
On Saturday night, the Phoenix Coyotes fell to the Chicago Blackhawks at Jobing.com Arena by the score of 7-5.
Just 1:14 into the contest, play was halted due to the first fight of the night as Phoenix rookie Daniel Carcillo and Chicago's Danny Richmond, dropped the gloves in the neutral zone. Once they came together both players were able to land a combination of punches, but Carcillo quickly gained the upper hand and began to punish Richmond with a series of blows, finally causing the 'Hawks defenseman to the ice.
Less than two minutes later, at 2:52 of the first, the two clubs again sought to settle their differences with a one-on-one battle featuring Coyotes' forward Josh Gratton and the Blackhawks' David Koci. Unlike the earlier bout, if you blinked, you may have missed this one as Grattone went right after Koci dropping him immediately with two quick punches. Once down on the ice, Koci absorbed a couple more hits before the officials were able to separate the pair and escort them to the box.
While Chicago had certainly struggled with the rough stuff, their ability to get pucks to the net was unfazed as the out-shot the Coyotes by nearly a two-to-one margin through the first five minute of play.
The Blackhawks early pressure would result in the first goal of the game at 6:31 of the period as forward Tuomo Ruutu accepted a feed from line-mate Martin Havlat in the corner and tucked the puck past goaltender Mikael Tellqvist for a 1-0 lead.
Exactly five minutes later, the 'Hawks struck again when Patrick Sharp was able to race through the neutral zone and chase down a loose puck inside the Phoenix zone; skate in and beat Tellqvist low to the glove side for a 2-0 Chicago lead.
At 9:30 of the first, Carcillo and Koci met along the boards in front of the Chicago bench where they exchanged minor shoves, resulting in roughing penalties, but Carcillo was also given an extra penalty for elbowing, giving the Blackhawks their first power play of the night. Chicago would take full advantage of the extra attacker as Patrick Sharp was able to fin open room in the right face-off circle and drill a one-timer from that location past Tellqvist; extending the 'Hawks' lead to three.
Seventeen seconds later, the Blackhawks made it a 4-0 game when Michael Holmqvist capitalized on a turnover by Jeff Taffe inside the Coyotes zone and swept the puck into the Phoenix net for his fifth tally of the season.
The Coyotes would make their first mark on the scoreboard at 13:29 of the first when forward Bill Thomas grabbed the puck in the Chicago crease and lifted a backhand shot into the net past netminder Nikolai Khabibulin. Derek Morris and Steven Reinprecht recorded the assists on Thomas' third goal of the season.
Little more than a minute later, the Coyotes struck again, this time on a one-timer by Mike Zigomanis from the bottom of the left face-off circle that rocketed past Khabilbulin and into the top corner of the net to make it a 4-2 game.
Seconds after the goal by Zigomanis, Josh Gratton and David Koci dropped the gloves for a rematch. This time Koci was able to stay on his feet and deliver a series of punches when Gratton struggled to get his jersey from covering his head. Once freed from the constraints of his sweater, Gratton was able to fire back and dish out some punishment of his own before the two combatants were sent back into the penalty box.
With just over two minutes to play in the period, the Coyotes entered the offensive zone on a three-on-one rush, but were quickly stopped, allowing the 'Hawks to send the puck back up ice where Jeff Hamilton gained control at the Phoenix blueline. Form there Hamilton raced past a diving Brendan Bell and lifted a backhand past Tellqvist to put Chicago back on top by three.
However, the Coyotes weren't finished and with 48-seconds left in the first, Derek Morris blasted a slap shot from the point that forward Jeff Taffe was able to tip at the top of the Blackhawks crease and deflect past Khabibulin to make it a 5-3 game heading into the first intermission.
The second period began with a change in goal for the Coyotes as Curtis Joseph took over for Mikael Tellqvist.
The Coyotes began the third period with three consecutive power plays in the first ten minutes of action. Unfortunately, the Coyotes were unable to capitalize on the man-advantage and the first half of the period slipped of the clock with Chicago still holding a two-goal lead.
At 15:20 of the second, the Coyotes found themselves on the penalty kill when defenseman Keith Ballard was assessed a minor penalty for closing his hand on the puck. The penalty would turn out to be even more frustrating at 16:33 of the stanza when a shot from the point by Chicago's Jeff Hamilton, was sent past Joseph.
Then with only 36 seconds left in the period, Coyotes defenseman Zbynek Michalek turned the puck over at his own blueline, allowing Jeff Hamilton to race in on a breakaway and fire a shot over the glove of Joseph and into the net for a 7-3 Chicago lead after 40-minutes of action. Hamilton's goal was his 17th of the season and third of the night, marking his first career hat trick.
At 2:50 of the third period, thing really turned ugly when Chicago's David Koci delivered a shoulder in the neutral zone to the face of Coyotes forward Bill Thomas. Thomas was immediately sent to the ice with blood running onto the ice. Defenseman Nick Boynton was quick to take exception to the hit by Koci as he went after the Blackhawks' enforcer. When the dust finally settled, Thomas was helped off the ice and into the Coyotes locker room for further eval uation form the Coyotes medical staff, Boynton received five-minutes for fighting and Koci received five for fighting, five for charging, a game misconduct for his third fight of the night and a second game misconduct for the hit.
Working with the five-minute power play, the Coyotes cut the deficit to 7-4 at 6:40 of the third when Niko Kapanen made a pass through the crease to Daniel Carcillo at the left side of the net, where he one-timed a shot past Khabibulin for his first career NHL goal.
The Coyotes would add one more when Mathias Tjarnqvist scored with one minute remaining in the third period. Derek Morris registered his third assist of the night and Kapanen, his second on Tjarnqvist's third goal of the season.
The last minute of play would expire without any further scoring or major incidents as the Coyotes fell to the Blackhawks by the final score of 7-5.