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Blackhawks end long road trip vs. Coyotes

by John Kreiser

BLACKHAWKS (19-4-4) at COYOTES (15-6-4)


Last 10: Chicago 8-2-0; Phoenix 5-3-2

Season series: The Chicago Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes will play their second of three games. The Blackhawks won 5-4 in a shootout at United Center on Nov. 12; seven of the past 15 games between the teams have gone to the tiebreaker.

Big story: The Blackhawks wrap up their seven-game "Circus Trip" in the desert. After a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche in the first game, the Blackhawks have won five in a row, including a 2-1 victory against the Dallas Stars on Friday night in an 11-round shootout. The Coyotes are back home after ending a three-game losing streak with a 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: If you want to beat the Blackhawks, rest assured you'll need to play a full 60 minutes, and sometimes more. The game against the Stars marked the third time in five games on their road trip that the Blackhawks won despite trailing after two periods.

On Friday, Patrick Sharp tied the game by scoring at 7:21 of the third period, and neither team scored through overtime. Sharp scored in the second round of the shootout, Dallas' Rich Peverley matched him in the third round and no one scored again until Ben Smith beat Kari Lehtonen in the 11th round for the win.

"It was a heck of a game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "The pace was incredible, the first period was tremendous pace. They work hard and get a lot of speed on you, they keep pressure on you, but we hung in there. Crow (Corey Crawford) was rock solid and great in the shootout as well, but it was one of those games that was tight and we had to do things quickly.

"It's pretty remarkable we've had three games out of the last four we've been down 1-0 going into the third and we found a way to win. We showed great character tonight."

Coyotes: Phoenix is off to one of the best starts in franchise history, but the Coyotes hadn't been playing the kind of tight-checking hockey Dave Tippett preaches -- at least not until Wednesday, when they stifled the Wild in Minnesota.

Radim Vrbata scored twice, Mikkel Boedker had a first-period goal and backup goaltender Thomas Greiss made 28 saves.

"We didn't give up an early lead," Tippett told the media Friday. "We were solid in a lot of the aspects of the game that we wanted to kind of shore up. Our puck decisions were good, we defended well around our net, our goaltending was really solid. It was just kind of a solid team game that we've come to kind of know our identity that way."

Who's hot: Patrick Kane was kept off the scoresheet Friday, ending his 11-game point streak, but still has three goals and six points in the past four games. Sharp has goals in back-to-back games. … Vrbata has two goals and seven points in the Coyotes' past five games.

Injury report: Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell (lower body), goalieNikolai Khabibulin (lower body) and defenseman Michael Kostka (lower body) are out. … Phoenix is without forward Lauri Korpikoski (upper body) and defenseman Zbynek Michalek (lower body). Captain Shane Doan (lower body) sat out practice Friday, but the Coyotes expect him to be able to play.

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