By Dave Vest
Phoenix’s bid to win a franchise record 10th consecutive game ended Tuesday night in anticlimactic fashion with a 2-0 defeat to the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center.
The Coyotes (46-23-5) simply couldn’t solve Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi, who made 28 saves to earn his sixth NHL shutout and lead Chicago (46-19-7) over Phoenix for the first time in four tries this season.
Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa scored even-strength goals less than six minutes apart in the second period to send the Coyotes to their first defeat since March 2.
"I'm sure there's some disappointment,” Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. “We've been on a good run and we've got some bounces our way, and tonight we didn't generate enough to earn those bounces.”
The Coyotes will have to settle for matching the franchise record with nine consecutive wins, which first was set in 1984-85 when the team was based in Winnipeg. Phoenix also will have to settle for sliding from second place in the Western Conference standings back to fourth.
The Coyotes had three power plays in the third period but failed to score despite creating some good scoring chances from in close.
“We needed one of those to go in,” Tippett said. “We were just looking for something that would have given us some life there. We got it inches from the goal line but we couldn’t get it over.”
He added, “That was a good lesson game for our team. We’re still finding ways to compete in very hard games. I look at the Blackhawks as an elite team in the league. These games are very good for our group. We need to compete at the highest level possible and when we get into games like this I think it pushes our group forward.”
Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
stopped 30 of 32 shots, but he lost for the first time in eight starts.
Niemi, a 26-year-old rookie, played extremely well.
"I thought it was a goalie win,” Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville said. "… (Niemi) made three or four (saves) that looked like empty nets, and his quickness and desperation led to some amazing saves."
The Coyotes appeared to take a 1-0 lead when captain Shane Doan
beat Niemi with a shot at 12:20 of the first period. The goal was not allowed because Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt
was called for being in the crease.
• Defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who was a healthy scratch on Sunday at Dallas, returned to the lineup and played 23:23. Only defenseman Adrian Aucoin
logged more ice time (23:34) than Schneider.
• The Coyotes killed all four of Chicago's power plays, including 25 seconds of a five-on-three advantage for the Blackhawks in the third period.
• The Coyotes have been shut out six times this season.
• Trailing 2-0, the Coyotes pulled goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
with 1:45 left in the third period. Despite the extra attacker, Phoenix didn't come close to scoring until forward Lee Stempniak
hit a post with a snap shot at 19:19.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette
, Robert Lang, Sami Lepisto
, Viktor Tikhonov
and Jim Vandermeer. Chicago scratched Brian Campbell, Colin Fraser, Kim Johnsson, and Brent Sopel.