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Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes @NHLdotcom
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GAME: Chicago Blackhawks (20-42-11-7) at Phoenix Coyotes (21-36-18-6).

TIME: Saturday, 4 p.m. EST.

The Phoenix Coyotes look to end the 2003-04 regular season with a rare win when they host the Chicago Blackhawks.

Phoenix is concluding its worst full season since amassing 57 points in 1993-94, when the franchise was located in Winnipeg. The Jets had 39 points in the strike-shortened 1995 season.

The Coyotes fired coach Bob Francis on Feb. 25 hoping the team would rally to make the playoffs, but the opposite happened.

Phoenix is 1-12-3-3 since Rick Bowness took over for Francis, and the Coyotes are out of the postseason for the third time in the last four years.

The Coyotes lost 1-0 to the Calgary Flames on Wednesday, and have been outscored 18-3 in dropping their last five contests.

"We played a lot of games over the last couple of weeks like that where no one can question the effort," Bowness said. "We were just unable to finish. We don't have the goal scoring, it's just not there right now."

Phoenix is winless in its last 12 home games (0-7-3-2), and 4-14-5-4 in 27 games since moving into Glendale Arena on Dec. 27.

Chicago is also on a five-game losing streak after falling 3-1 at home to the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

The Blackhawks, who conclude their regular season Sunday in Dallas, are winless in their last seven (0-4-2-1) and have a Western Conference-low 58 points.

Jocelyn Thibault made his first home start Thursday since Oct. 19, and made 26 saves. He lost two road games after missing 60 following hip surgery Nov. 15.

"I'm pretty satisfied with the way I played," he said. "I made a couple of mistakes, but mostly I did the right things."

Chicago and Phoenix have played to 2-2 ties in each of their three meetings this season.

STANDINGS (through April 1): Blackhawks - 58 points, 5th place, 51 PB, Central Division. Coyotes - 66 points, 5th place, 36 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Blackhawks - Tyler Arnason and Tuomo Ruutu, 22 goals; Bryan Berard, 33 assists; Arnason, 54 points; Scott Nichol, 139 PIM. Coyotes - Shane Doan, 27 goals, 41 assists and 68 points; Andrei Nazarov, 125 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through April 1): Blackhawks - Power play: 15.7 percent (54 for 345), 19th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.0 percent (316 for 376), 17th. Coyotes - Power play: 14.1 percent (50 for 354), 25th. Penalty killing: 82.1 percent (326 for 397), 23rd.

GOALTENDERS: Blackhawks - Thibault (5-6-2, 1 SO, 2.68 GAA); Adam Munro (1-4-1, 3.97). Coyotes - Brian Boucher (9-19-10, 5, 2.79); Brent Johnson (5-9-2, 1, 2.51).


LAST MEETING: March 21; 2-2 tie. At Chicago, the Blackhawks took a 2-0 lead at 5:02 of the second period, but Dan Cleary made it a one-goal game six minutes later and assisted on Mike Comrie's tying score with just under 10 minutes remaining in regulation.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Blackhawks - 7-25-5-2 on the road; Coyotes - 10-19-7-4 at home.

Associated Press
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