By Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent
CHICAGO -- Following his team's morning skate on Tuesday, Head Coach Dave Tippett was asked why the Coyotes have played so well on the road this season.
"Well, it's probably because we play our 'road game' even at home," he said, smiling at his reference to Phoenix's hard-nosed stylings. "But that's the style of game we have to play, it's hard-checking and making sure that we're putting the work in every game. On the road, teams do tend to simplify a little bit, but we've hung around a lot of games and found a way to win a lot of games."
Seven, to be exact, following a 4-1 victory at the United Center on Tuesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks (14-8-3), who struggled to find their usual jump in the first game back home after their annual six-game "circus trip."
Daymond Langkow, Shane Doan, Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney each scored for the Coyotes (13-7-3), who won back-to-back games for the first time since the mid-November – a span of six games.
Patrick Sharp scored his 11th goal for the Hawks, but it didn't happen until late in the third, when Chicago was already down by four goals.
The Coyotes dominated the game – executing that hard-checking, suffocating defensive style Tippett talked about to perfection. Phoenix lulled Chicago to sleep and then surprised Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford with offensive chances in bursts.
After Langkow made it 1-0 late in the first with his first goal and third point since returning from an extended absence to grieve the death of his mother, Doan pushed it to a 2-0 lead midway through the second with his seventh goal of the season and first in five games.
Langkow's came off an odd bounce after he whacked at the puck from the right side of the net with Crawford appearing to make the save. Somehow the puck eluded his grasp and slipped over the goal line underneath his right hand.
Doan blasted a one-timer (see KEY MOMENT below) for a 2-0 lead in the second, which Phoenix maintained to start the third. Vrbata and Whitney then scored within the first five minutes of the third to make it 4-0, and that was all the Coyotes needed.
|Photo by Getty Images
In winning so convincingly, Phoenix also turned the tables on Chicago from the first meeting between these teams. The Blackhawks went to the desert on Oct. 18 and thoroughly handled the Coyotes in a 5-2 victory, with Jason LaBarbera taking the loss in net.
This time, Mike Smith started for the Coyotes and looked sharp – especially in the early part of the first. After talking about "coming out flying" to overcome the jet lag factor that seems to accompany the first game back from a long trip, the Blackhawks put five quick shots on goal within the first few minutes of the game.
Smith turned them all away and the Blackhawks then lapsed into some sloppy play, which led to scoring chances and eventually goals for the Coyotes. It never improved, either, as Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville jumbled his forward lines frantically looking for a spark.
► EDITOR'S NOTE: Dave Vest of phoenixcoyotes.com edited this story and compiled this recap.
Leading 1-0 midway through the second period, Coyotes forwards Daymond Langkow
, Shane Doan
and Mikkel Boedker
carried the puck through the zones after a pad save by Mike Smith
in front of the Phoenix net.
Doan punctuated the passing exchange by the three forwards by one-timing a drop pass by Boedker past Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford and just under the crossbar at 9:54.
► Click here
to watch the KEY MOMENT
• With the win, the Coyotes, who finished the month of November with an 8-4-1 record, moved into first place in the Pacific Division standings with 29 points.
• Goalie Mike Smith
has stopped 112 of 117 shots in his past four wins. That's a .957 save percentage. Smith, who finished November with an 8-2-1 record, will be a guest on NHL Live on Wednesday, which starts at 3 p.m. (Arizona time) on NHL Network.
• Winger Ray Whitney
notched a goal and two assists for his second three-point game of the season. Whitney had two goals and an assist on Oct. 27 vs. New Jersey.
• Center Daymond Langkow
notched a goal and an assist for his second straight multi-point game since returning from a leave of absence.
• The Coyotes, who are 3-1-1 in their past five games at Chicago, return to the United Center for another game on Monday night.
• The Coyotes scratched Paul Bissonnette
, Cal O'Reilly
and Kyle Turris
• The Coyotes' next game is Thursday vs. Winnipeg at the MTS Centre. The puck drops at 6:30 p.m. (Arizona time). The game can be seen on Fox Sports Arizona and can be heard on XTRA Sports 910 (AM).