The Chicago Blackhawks looked to extend their win streak after a successful road trip with the moms in Boston and New Jersey. The Arizona Coyotes have performed well to start the season, and Darcy Kuemper is already in the conversation for the Vezina trophy. But they’re struggling to score goals with star forward Phil Kessel only on pace for about 45 points this season after putting up 70 or more in his last three years in Pittsburgh. Robin Lehner got the start for the Blackhawks.
The lines and pairings for the home team were as follows:
The Blackhawks got off to a quick start in this game. With less than 60 seconds off the clock, Calvin de Haan entered the offensive zone cleanly and drove past a couple of Coyotes with the puck. He spotted a waiting Jonathan Toews to the right of Darcy Kuemper, and the captain found a way to put the puck in the yawning yet with a shot through the legs of Jason Demers.
Both teams exchanged scoring chances following the goal, with Robin Lehner making a great save on Palos native Christian Dvorak. Kuemper then came up with a big glove save on a Zack Smith breakaway about seven minutes into the period.
With 11:47 left in the period, Demers tripped Brandon Saad as he entered the zone and the Blackhawks’ power play went to work. After the Coyotes had a shorthanded opportunity, Patrick Kane found a streaking Alex DeBrincat, who potted his eighth goal of the season.
The Coyotes’ line of former Chicago Mission players then got on the board after some great effort along the boards to gain puck possession. Nick Schmaltz found Christian Dvorak out in front and a scramble ensued before the puck eventually went off of Christian Fischer‘s skate and past Lehner.
Schmaltz → Dvorak → Fischer.
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) December 9, 2019
After their goal, the Coyotes tilted the ice in their favor and Lehner faced a decent amount of scoring chances for the next five minutes. But the Blackhawks were able to take an advantage of an offensive-zone faceoff that Jonathan Toews won. Connor Murphy retrieved the puck and simply flipped it towards the net, and Dominik Kubalik’s stick was right in the path of that shot. Kubalik tipped the puck by Kuemper and extended the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-1.
Just before the first period ended, Brent Seabrook took an interference penalty. The Blackhawks headed into the intermission with a 3-1 lead and 1:31 of a penalty to kill. Arizona led Chicago 16-11 in shots and 13-11 in scoring chances after 20 minutes.
The Blackhawks started the second period on the penalty kill and did a great job of limiting the Coyotes’ chances. For the next five minutes, each team got some good opportunities but nothing came from them.
Jonathan Toews then took a tripping minor and Chicago’s penalty kill went back to work, but they couldn’t stop the Coyotes from scoring and Conor Garland cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 3-2 with a power play goal.
Conor Garland's team leading 12th goal of the season comes just when we need it. pic.twitter.com/ouDzRk0JOr
— Arizona Coyotes (@ArizonaCoyotes) December 9, 2019
Just a few minutes later, Jason Demers hit Alex DeBrincat from behind and Dennis Gilbert stood up for his teammate by fighting the Arizona defenseman. However, Gilbert was called for instigating and given a 10-minute misconduct, but the officials didn’t call Demers for boarding, so the Blackhawks were back on the kill. Once again, they couldn’t keep the Coyotes from scoring on the man advantage and Carl Soderberg‘s shot at the end of the power play went off Slater Koekkoek’s stick and past Lehner to tie the game.
No scoring occurred after Arizona tied the game, but once again, both teams exchanged scoring opportunities. Jonathan Toews had a great chance to score and had Kuemper beat, but the puck was rolling on him and he couldn’t elevate it. Robin Lehner also made a few great saves, especially on the penalty kill late in the second.
— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) December 9, 2019
After 40 minutes, the Blackhawks and Coyotes headed into the intermission tied 3-3. Arizona led Chicago 27-20 in shots, but the home team had a 15-5 advantage in scoring chances.
Robin Lehner began the third period with a handful of great saves on the Coyotes, including a wide-open chance for speedy forward Michael Grabner.
Back-and-forth action continued with each team exchanging scoring chances, and then the Blackhawks took yet another penalty in the middle of the frame. For the most part, Chicago did a good job keeping Arizona to the outside and not allowing chances. Lehner did come up with two beautiful saves toward the end of the kill, including a beautiful one on Clayton Keller.
The Coyotes continued pressuring, and Lehner kept the Blackhawks alive. With no scoring in the third period, Arizona and Chicago headed into overtime. The Coyotes outshot the Blackhawks 44-25 in regulation, but only led 34-31 in scoring chances. This was Chicago’s third straight game needing extra time.
Despite a faceoff win from Kane, the Coyotes maintained possession to begin overtime. Robin Lehner stunned everyone once again with a spectacular save on Jakob Chychrun.
The Blackhawks then got a power play and moved the puck well, but passed too much and didn’t shoot enough. Toews was then called for a weak slash, and the Coyotes went to the power play where Lehner stood tall once again.
With all of those opportunities, neither team scored. So the Blackhawks headed to the skills competition for the second game in a row.
Everyone knows shootouts are Robin Lehner’s one weakness in goal, and that was evident tonight. Jonathan Toews missed the net wide, and then Nick Schmaltz scored a nice goal. Patrick Kane countered with one of his own, but Conor Garland converted, too. Kirby Dach couldn’t be the Blackhawks’ savior tonight, and Chicago fell 4-3 to Arizona in the shootout.
Overall, the Coyotes outshot the Blackhawks 47-29 and out-chanced them 36-34. Here’s a summary of the night for Lehner:
and then the shootout happens and his save percentage is under .500 somehow https://t.co/uA6eTyFSgC
— dom luszczyszyn (@domluszczyszyn) December 9, 2019
- Once again, Robin Lehner stood on his head and kept the Blackhawks in the game. He made 44 saves, and a bunch of them were spectacular. It’s obvious he struggles in the shootout, but he’s absolutely a great goaltender otherwise.
- Alex DeBrincat scored tonight, and he’s now scored in three straight games after enduring a very long goal drought. It’s great to see pucks going in the net for him. Hopefully his last few games instill confidence in him and he can keep up his play.
- There were a few iffy calls tonight, but the Blackhawks have got to stop taking unnecessary penalties. More discipline is needed.
- A consistent issue for this team this year has been passing too much on the power play. It’s gotten better over the last few games, and they’ve converted on opportunities in their last three games. But when you have the puck as much as they did during overtime and don’t shoot, that’s a problem.