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Recap: Coyotes End Scoring Slump, Beat Blackhawks

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

CHICAGO -- The Coyotes entered Thursday's game at the Blackhawks having scored just three goals all season. They left United Center with an impressive and much-needed 4-1 victory.  

Chicago native Vinnie Hinostroza, who came to Arizona last summer via a trade with the Blackhawks, led the way in his first game against his former team by notching the game-winning goal and an empty-netter.

"It was nice," said Hinostroza, who had about a dozen friends and family members at the game. "I think there were emotions until the first shift, but once you get out there one time, it just turns into a regular game. I kind of forgot all the outside stuff and just played hockey."

Clayton Keller produced a goal and an assist, Antti Raanta made 33 saves, and eight of the 20 Coyotes notched at least one point as Arizona spoiled Chicago goalie Corey Crawford's return to action after nearly 10 months on the sidelines because of a concussion.

Arizona blocked a season-high 27 shots on goal. 

"We haven't played that great and we haven't got the results we want," Raanta said. "Today we got the scoring going. It was a big team effort. Guys put their bodies on the line blocking shots. It's a big win."

With the victory, Raanta, who began his NHL career with Chicago in 2013, improved his record at United Center to an eye-popping 16-0-3. Per the NHL, Raanta has allowed three or fewer goals in 16 consecutive appearances with the Coyotes dating to Feb. 24, posting an NHL-leading 1.56 goals-against average and .947 save percentage in that span.

Video: Raanta: 'Special to Come Back'

• Arizona took a 1-0 lead at 11:43 of the first period when Lawson Crouse beat Crawford with a shot from the right circle to cap a two-on-one rush. Keller set up the play with a nifty pass across the slot.  

"(Crouse) scored a big goal for us there in the first," Hinostroza said. "That was our first five-on-five goal of the season ... and it kind of got our team going."

Video: Hinostroza on Returning to CHI

Head Coach Rick Tocchet placed Crouse on the top line with Keller and Derek Stepan for this game and liked how he responded.

"I just had a feeling before the game that I wanted him up there," Tocchet said. "He supplies a forecheck, and 'Kells' and 'Step' can kind of fill in after that. I think we needed that kind of presence. He's gotten better every game."

Video: ARI@CHI: Crouse whips one-timer past Crawford

• Tied 1-1 in the second period, Hinostroza quieted the crowd by wristing a shot past Crawford from the right circle just 2:03 after Erik Gustafsson had pulled Chicago even with his first goal of the season. Oliver Ekman-Larsson set up the goal with a sneaky slap pass.

"That's big," Tocchet said. "They tied it up. This is an intimidating building and (the fans) started getting loud. To get that goal, the way it developed, 'O' made a great play. That was nice."

Video: ARI@CHI: Hinostroza goes top shelf on Crawford

• Keller tallied his goal, unassisted on a breakaway, at 14:22 of the third period after intercepting an errant pass by Chicago's Chris Kunitz.

"I thought we played hard," Keller said. "We played the right way and we got a lot of chances. It's good to see some goals go in. There's a lot of confidence in this room now."

Video: ARI@CHI: Keller intercepts pass, beats Crawford

•  Niklas Hjalmarsson played in Chicago for the first time since being traded by the Blackhawks to the Coyotes in June of 2017. During a break in the first period, fans gave Hjalmarsson, who helped Chicago win three Stanley Cups, a standing ovation after the Blackhawks played a lengthy tribute to him on the video board. Hjalmarsson watched the tribute from the ice and shed a few tears.

"Seeing all those clips, I gave my heart and soul for this club for 10 years and played as hard as I could, and I'm proud of what I accomplished along with my great teammates that I had here for a long time," Hjalmarsson said. "Then, when I saw my son, it was tough to hold back the tears. It was a great moment."

Video: Hjalmarsson on CHI Video Tribute

Tocchet removed Hjalmarsson from the ice briefly so he could regain his composure.

"The Blackhawks are a classy organization and he got emotional out there," Tocchet said. "I think the guys wanted to win this one for Nik, for sure."

Video: ARI@CHI: Hjalmarsson tears up in return to Chicago

Jordan Oesterle, who came to the Coyotes in the same trade that brought Hinostroza aboard, quietly played a solid game. Most notably, he triggered Arizona's first goal with an accurate stretch pass off the left wall to Keller from deep in the defensive zone. He also blocked a team-high five shots. 

• Stats that jump off the Event Summary: Michael Grabner led the Coyotes with six shots on goal, Nick Cousins won eight of 13 face-offs, and Christian Fischer and Kevin Connauton delivered four hits apiece.

Video: Tocchet: Practice Paid Off

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