GLENDALE -- The pregame talk was about Raffi Torres and Marian Hossa. But 20 minutes into the Chicago Blackhawks-Phoenix Coyotes game, all the conversation had shifted to Chicago’s razor-sharp skill players as the red-hot Blackhawks continue to carve up the West.
Patrick Kane had two goals and an assist and Patrick Sharp had three assists during a four-goal first period; they were two of five Blackhawks with multi-point games in a 6-2 rout of the Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.
“This is a good slap in the face right here," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "We just went out there and we just got kicked, and if we don’t recognize that then we have bigger problems then I think we have.”
Martin Hanzal had his fifth goal of the season for Phoenix, and Torres added his first of the season with 1:25 left – but it was meaningless. The Coyotes came into the game with a 3-0-2 record in their last five games, having allowed just six non-shootout goals in that span. Chicago had six in the first 35:08 of play.
"We have a lot of depth and everyone is contributing right now," Chicago defenseman Duncan Keith said. "Coaches have been good about giving us time off to rest, and guys are using that time wisely. It's huge to have this kind of start with all the road games and to put that part of the schedule behind us the way we're doing it."
Kane has 18 points in 11 games – three behind Buffalo’s Tomas Vanek for the League lead.
Viktor Stalberg, Dave Bolland, Jonathan Toews and Brian Bickell also scored for Chicago, which has scored 12 of its 38 goals in a pair of road wins against the Coyotes – who ousted the Blackhawks from the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring.
Despite playing only two of their 11 games at home, the Blackhawks are an NHL-best 9-0-2 and only getting stronger and they approach some of the best starts ever. The 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks started 12-0-4 and the Edmonton Oilers started 12-0-3 in 1984-85, in the days of regulation ties. Both teams went on to win the Stanley Cup.
But neither of those starts came in a shortened season -- or with more than 80 percent of the games on the road.
Ray Emery stopped 22 shots for the win. Mike Smith allowed all six goals and was pulled after Bickell made it 6-1, but he didn’t get much help from his teammates.
The Coyotes had four shots in the first period, racked up 25 penalty minutes, 12 by defenseman Keith Yandle, and gave the talent-rich Blackhawks a pair of 5-on-3 power plays to feast on – with Kane punching home goals each time.
There was little question if the Blackhawks would seek out retribution against Torres for the hit that ended Hossa’s season in Game 3 of the last year’s Western Conference quarterfinal and earned him a 21-game suspension -- only how long it would take. The answer was 2:35 into the game, about 20 seconds into Torres’ first shift.
Torres delivered a check near the Chicago bench and was called out by veteran Jamal Mayers before he even came over the boards for his shift. Torres quickly obliged, dropping his gloves, and the pair traded some good shots before Mayers tumbled to the ice to end it.
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"We just wanted to focus on playing hard," Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp said. "(You) got to give credit to Jamal for doing it. It’s the toughest job of the game. I guess you’ve got to tip your hat to Raffi as well there.”
From there, the Coyotes lost their system, their discipline and their composure – and the Blackhawks gobbled up every opportunity. Stalberg got it started at 8:17, taking a pretty Andrew Shaw feed up the slot and beating Smith to the short side under the crossbar for his third goal of the season.
From there, it was a Phoenix parade to the penalty box and a Chicago scoring spree.
Just 39 seconds after Oliver-Ekman Larsson was sent off for interference, Derek Morris joined him for cross-checking. Smith was able to stop a point-blank bid from Sharp, but Toews slid the puck to the other post where Kane was waiting to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games at 14:52.
It took only 2:32 for Chicago to strike again. Sharp caught Kane flying into the Phoenix zone and Kane patiently waited for a trailing Bolland steaming up the slot. Bolland took Kane's pass and one-timed it past Smith to make it 3-0.
Yandle drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty immediately after Bolland's goal and Zbynek Michalek headed to the box 34 seconds later for tripping Bolland. Sharp needed just 27 seconds of the 5-on-3 to find Kane across the crease for another slam dunk; Chicago had its fourth goal of the period and the Coyotes by the scruff of the neck.
"When you give up five power-play opportunities, one soft goal, two 5-on-3 goals and one where we had nobody willing to cover anybody close and put them up [4-0], it makes it kind of an uphill battle," Tippett said.
The Coyotes got on the board when Hanzal tipped home Radim Vrbata's power-play shot 5:19 into the second period – just the second power-play goal Chicago has allowed in nine road games this season – but the Blackhawks chased Smith with two more goals 2:16 apart to seal it.
Toews charged the length of the ice -- leaving both Torres and Ekman-Larsson twisted in his wake -- before beating Smith with a wrister at 12:42. Stalberg then swiped the puck from an exasperated Yandle behind the Phoenix net and set up Bickell on the doorstep at 15:08 to make it 6-1.
• Phoenix’s defeat was its first on home ice in the month of February since Feb. 2, 2011 when it lost 6-0 to Vancouver.
• Coyotes center Martin Hanzal scored his team-high fifth goal to extend his point streak to four games.
• Coyotes defenseman Chris Summers replaced injured David Schlemko (upper-body injury) in the lineup. Summers, who played 21 games for Phoenix last season, played 20:04 in his season debut. He blocked two shots. took two shots and delivered two hits.
• Coyotes forward Raffi Torres summed up the game well: “We had two good practices and then come out and had a game like that. That’s the worst part. It’s just unacceptable.”