By Dave Vest CHICAGO – 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.
Coyotes forward Taylor Pyatt had more than one decent scoring chance. His best came with 10:26 left in the third period, but Blackhawks goalie Antti Niemi thwarted Pyatt's bid for a goal by making an amazing save with his glove while on his belly 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.
"A couple times I had a little more time than I thought and I could have gotten the puck up maybe a little higher and over his glove. The opportunities were there so I'll just keep with it and hopefully I can bang one home soon."
"The other goalie played well. You'd like to see us bear down a little bit more and finish a couple of those chances because we certainly had ours."
"They've been hot as of late and playing playoff-caliber hockey. That's something that we wanted to get back to, and we did a great job of it."
• Feb. 5, 2010: PHX 2, CHI 1 (SO)
• March, 23, 2010: CHI 2, PHX 0
• Nov. 5, 2009: PHX 3, CHI 1
• March 20, 2010: PHX 5, CHI 4 (SO)
1 - 0 CHI
2 - 0 CHI
Holding the stick