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Coyotes' streak at 6 after 2-1 shootout win over Hawks

by John Kreiser

The Phoenix Coyotes have won six in a row, they're fourth in the West and are just four points short of their points total for all of last season.

And coach Dave Tippett wants more.

The Coyotes extended their winning streak on Friday night when ex-Blackhawk Adrian Aucoin scored his second consecutive shootout winner to give Phoenix a 2-1 win at Chicago.

Aucoin, the Hawks' former captain who got the winner in the 10th round of a 1-0 victory at Nashville on Tuesday, ripped a wrist shot past Cristobal Huet to start the third round. Jason LaBarbera poke-checked Marian Hossa on the Hawks' third try to give the Coyotes the win.

LaBarbera stopped 28 shots through 65 minutes and two of three shootout tries. Robert Lang scored in the first round of the shootout, and Radim Vrbata scored the Coyotes' lone goal in regulation on a second-period power play.

The streak is the longest for Phoenix since it win seven in a row midway through the 2006-07 season. The Coyotes are 9-2-0 in their last 11 -- and Tippett wants to make sure they keep on winning.

"We're trying to push this thing as far as we can," he said. "There's a push before the [Olympic] break and a push after."

Tippett used Aucoin after calling on nine other shooters in Nashville. This time, he waited only until the third round.

"If you look at the stats, he's 1-for-1," Tippett said. "So why wouldn't you go with your highest percentage guy."

"Now I'm nervous," Aucoin said. "The first one was luck. Now it's actually a streak."

With the win, surging Phoenix improved to 75 points and moved past Los Angeles into fourth place in the Western Conference.

LaBarbera did the job for the Coyotes while giving No. 1 goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov the night off. He's expected to start Saturday at Dallas.

"Jason was awesome," Aucoin said. "Our goaltending has been go-to all year."

LaBarbera was almost as good against Chicago as Bryzgalov had been in Nashville.

"I thought I was getting to my spots early," LaBarbera said. "I got in position to make myself big and the puck was hitting me. Our 'D' did a great job, especially early, clearing rebounds."

It was the season-high third loss in a row for the frustrated Hawks, who got a regulation goal by Colin Fraser and one in the shootout by Jonathan Toews.

"I don't know what's wrong with us," Toews said. "We've got to find a way to use that crowd and get energy going and talk to each other on the bench and recognize our mistakes and go out there and have better shifts afterward, and we're not doing that."

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville credited the Coyotes for shutting down his team, but said his team needed to work harder to get through Phoenix's tight checking game.

"We were playing a top team and they do a lot of things well," Quenneville said. "We have to respect what the other team can do.

"I thought going into tonight's game it was important for us to try to get a 'W.' I think all year long things have been rather smooth, and now it's a good test for us to try to recapture some momentum."

Fraser, a healthy scratch on Wednesday, roofed a rebound 4:46 into the game for his first goal since Dec. 29.

Chicago missed two chances late in the period to double its lead.. LaBarbera stopped Troy Brouwer from the right edge of the crease, and John Madden misfired a minute later with a wide-open net in front of him.

LaBarbera stopped Hossa on a shorthanded breakaway late in the second period, and Vrbata scored at 16:43 when his low shot from above the left circle deflected into the net.

The Coyotes controlled the tempo for most of the rest of the game, leaving the Hawks frustrated.

"Our puck-possession was virtually not there," Quenneville said. "They frustrated us. Their puck pursuit and checking scheme were very effective tonight."

Material from wire services and team media was used in this report

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