The start of a road trip is always important, especially when you are looking to end a two-game skid in a very competive Western Conference. The Phoenix Coyotes opened their three-game road stint Monday night in the city where they got their last win, Chicago. Since the Coyotes got the decisive 4-1 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov.29, the teams fortunes had gone in opposite directions. The Coyotes came into the game looking to end their two-game losing streak, while the Blackhawks were looking to continue their two-game winning streak.
The Coyotes started the scoring early when Raffi Torres caught a nice pass from from Mikkel Boedker and put the puck past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford just under three minutes into the game. The second Coyote goal would come off the stick of the blazing Radim Vrbata, who took advantage of turnover from Blackhawks defender Duncan Keith and patiently waited for Crawford to give him a hole to put the puck in. The goal gave Vrbata his tenth point in his last nine games.
It looked like the game might turn into a blowout when the Coyotes scored their third unanswered goal of the game when Keith Yandle put a laser shot from the point top corner on Crawford. The Yandle goal would force Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville to pull Crawford in favor of backup Ray Emery.
After the goalie switch Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews put his team on his back and almost single-handedly brought the Blackhawks back from the three goal deficit. The talented Toews would beat Mike Smith twice in the second period, once on a wrist shot and the other on a power play tip-in. Toews also set up the tying goal when he out skated the Coyote defenders to a loose puck and fed a one-timer pass to an open Patrick Kane, who doesn't have a problem finding the back of the net. The teams would go into the second intermission all tied up at 3-3. The Blackhawks outshot the Coyotes 6-14 in the period.
The highlight of the third period was undoubtedly a blocked shot by Keith Yandle that was made when Mike Smith was caught severely out of position. Again the Coyotes struggled to get the puck on net during the period and really did not test Blackhawks backup Emery until a flurry of chances to end regulation.
The teams would trade chances in the five minute overtime period, but with neither team being able to put the puck in the net, a shootout would have to decide a winner. Defenseman Oliver Ekman -Larsson would start the scoring for the Coyotes in the shootout with a solid glove-hand snipe, and after Toews failed to make his shot Vrbata would add a pretty backhand goal to put the Yotes up 2-0. Crafty veteran Marian Hossa would be shutdown by Mike Smith to secure the much needed win for the Desert Dogs. The Coyotes are the fourth team this season to have a three goal lead, blow a three goal lead, and still manage to get the win.
The Coyotes will travel to Tennessee Tuesday to take on the Nashville Predators (12-10-4).
Coyote notes: The Phoenix Coyotes will host a toy drive on Saturday, December 10 at Jobing.com Arena when the Coyotes face the Minnesota Wild. Coyotes fans are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy to the game in support of St. Joseph's Hospital. Last week, nearly $20,000 worth of toys was stolen from St. Joseph's Children's Rehabilitative Services clinic. It will also be Buck Bash night at Jobing.com where fans can enjoy $1 hot dogs, soda, and beers.