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Power play helps Hawks edge Coyotes

by Jerry Brown
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Chicago Blackhawks won a game they had to have Sunday, but it might have cost them a player they can't afford to lose.

Chris Campoli, acquired from Ottawa at the trade deadline, scored his first goal as a Blackhawks off a nifty power-play pass from captain Jonathan Toews with 8:24 left in regulation and Chicago won for only the second time in its last six games, 2-1 against the Phoenix Coyotes at Arena.

The Blackhawks used two power-play goals and 22 saves from goalie Corey Crawford to win for only the second time in the last six games and rebound from an embarrassing 5-0 loss in Dallas on Thursday. But Chicago also lost 34-goal scorer Patrick Sharp to a left knee injury in the first period – one that could be serious.

Sharp was injured in a collision with Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla while taking a shot in the first period. Sharp, went down to the ice face-first in pain, was helped from the ice and did not return.  Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said Sharp will be have further tests Monday in Chicago to better determine the severity of the injury.
"It's the story of the year, it seems like," said Toews, who went down a laundry list of Blackhawks who have missed long stretches to injury as they try to defend the Stanley Cup. "We've had a lot of guys go down like that …  I'm sure Sharpie's frustrated and he's going to hurry back as quick as he can we want him to make a full recovery and for the time being we'll have step it up and find a way.

"We needed to find a way to win these types of games. A win like that can help us forget about that game in Dallas and help us move on. We know power plays and penalty kills are a big deal in the playoffs."

Toews' assist gave him at least one point in 19 of his last 23 games and the Blackhawks their sixth power-play goal in 10 chances against the Phoenix penalty kill this season. Duncan Keith scored in the first period for the Blackhawks, who jumped from eighth to fifth in the Western Conference and pulled even with Los Angeles and Nashville, who all have 86 points. The Predators rallied for an overtime win at Buffalo on Sunday afternoon.

Crawford made two huge saves in the final two minutes on Ray Whitney to nail down his 25th win of the year.

"I thought he made the two biggest saves of the year," Quenneville said. "He looked big in the net the way he was challenging (shots) and it was a good response."

Campoli's game-winner came after Phoenix captain Shane Doan was called for a curious holding penalty on Chicago's Niklas Hjalmarsson with 8:20 left. Doan and the Coyotes complained vehemently over referee Paul Devorski's call.

"I've watched it about 20 times. I don't understand it … I don't understand it all," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "To me there's no hold whatsoever there. It's disappointing that a call like that can have an impact like that in a very competitive game in a very tight playoff race. But it's the reality of what happened. We have to deal with it and move on."

Doan said: "I have way too much respect for Paul Devorski to make any comment on it. I know he's trying. I just don't want to say anything about it."

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Coyotes, who had points in six straight games (5-0-1). Coming off a perfect 4-0 road trip ending with three straight wins in Western Canada, Phoenix had collected 30 of 40 points over its last 20 games (14-4-2) but couldn't keep it going to start a season-long, six game homestand before a sellout crowd (17,328).

Eric Belanger had the only goal for the Coyotes, who remained in fourth place, three points ahead of Los Angeles and Chicago.

"We have to win. That's all it comes down to," Doan said. "I don't care what happens in the game, we just have to find ways to win."

Chicago held the Coyotes without a shot for the first 11 minutes and capitalized on Belanger's high sticking penalty to score late in the period. Keith blasted his sixth goal of the year from the left dot – a shot that Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov got a piece of but had go right through him.
"It wasn't the prettiest win, but we deserved to win," Keith said. "We had a lot of chances we worked hard … and it was important that we won in regulation."

But after putting only four shots on Crawford in the first period, the Coyotes controlled the second period with a 14-10 shot advantage and tied the game with a little help from the Hawks. Belanger's shot from the right boards struck Chicago defenseman Nick Leddy and deflected into the net at 18:43. It was Belanger's 13th goal of the season and his fourth in the last seven games.

The Blackhawks came out hard to start the third period but Bryzgalov made big saves on Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Toews to keep the game even.

Coyotes defenseman Adrian Aucoin – who was the Blackhawks captain from 2005-07 – played in his 1,000th NHL game Sunday night. Aucoin is the 264th player in League history to play in 1,000 games and the 10th player – including teammate and regular defense partner Ed Jovanovski – to reach the milestone this season. Aucoin has 386 career points (119-267-386) in his 16-year career and is second on the team in ice time (21:54) for the Coyotes this season.

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