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Coyotes end trip with a stop in Chicago

by Sergei J. Feldman
COYOTES (33-21-9) at BLACKHAWKS (32-23-6)


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

Season series -- This is the third of four matchups between the two Western Conference foes. Phoenix has taken both games, one of which was a shootout victory.

Big story -- Is this the roll that Hawks fans have been waiting for? Chicago brings a three-game winning streak into the game after beating the Predators 3-0 in Nashville on Thursday. Meanwhile, the Phoenix Coyotes are trying to finish their five-game road trip on a positive note -- they won at Nashville and Philadelphia, but allowed 13 goals in losses at Tampa Bay and Columbus.

Team scope:

Coyotes -- The losses to the Lightning and Blue Jackets came after an eight-game winning streak that has carried the Coyotes to fourth in the West, three points behind first-place San Jose. They took an early 2-0 lead in Columbus, but started filling the penalty box and paid the price -- the Blue Jackets were 3-for-9 in a 5-3 win.

"When you (take penalties) you are just giving the other team a better chance of winning and we just kept doing it until they won," coach Dave Tippett said. "Four or five of the penalties we took tonight were players that got beat in a one-on-one battle. That's just unacceptable for us right now."

Blackhawks -- The Hawks' mini-surge has moved them back to within a point of the top eight in the West.

"It's all up to us what we do with (our recent strong play)," defenseman Duncan Keith said after the win in Nashville. "Tonight, I thought was a great team effort. That's what it's going to take."

The Hawks are bracing for a busy week -- they play five times in seven days, including Monday at Minnesota.

Who's hot -- Phoenix defenseman Keith Yandle has 5 points in five games, while forward Mikkel Boedker rides a three-game point streak after picking up his first multi-point game. … Chicago has been led by Patrick Sharp's four-game point streak, in which he's picked up seven points.

Injury report -- Chicago brings a healthy lineup against Phoenix. The Coyotes are without the services of Ray Whitney, who's day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Stat pack- Coyotes captain Shane Doan reached the 1,100-game mark on Friday. … The Coyotes have won five of the last six against the Hawks, but three of the five -- including a 3-2 win in Phoenix on Feb. 12 -- have come in shootouts. Before that, the Hawks had won six in a row while outscoring the 'Yotes 23-5.

Puck drop -- Defenseman Brent Seabrook may be the next Blackhawk to sign on for the long term. Seabrook reportedly is close to signing a five-year deal that TSN says could be worth $30 million.

"The defense is the key that makes everything go for us," GM Stan Bowman said Saturday. "We've got a lot of really skilled forwards, and the style of hockey we like to play is dependent on having mobile, puck-moving defensemen."

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