Both the Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes came into tonight with a must-win attitude. The Blackhawks stood five points behind the Colorado Avalanche for the last Western Conference wild card spot with a game in hand. Playoff chances are much more slim for them as opposed to the Coyotes, who sat only two points behind the Avalanche heading into tonight’s game.
The game started slow as both teams were feeling each other out. The Blackhawks had a decent opportunity but the Alex DeBrincat short-side shot was put into the corner by Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper. Corey Crawford made a nice save on a Lawson Crouse redirect and the shots were even 4–4 a little over seven minutes into the game.
The Coyotes took the shot advantage as the period went on but both goaltenders were doing a fine job of thwarting the shot attempts. It was a game with not much pace despite there not being many stoppages, a far cry from the Blackhawks games we have become accustomed to over the last few months.
Shots were 12–10 in favor of the Blackhawks to end the scoreless first period.
It was more of the same game in the second period. Arizona had the edge in shots in this frame as they evened them for the game halfway through.
The first power play of the game came at 11:55 in favor of the Blackhawks as Clayton Keller was called for interference on Connor Murphy. DeBrincat had a good look early but could not get all of the shot as the puck jumped on him a bit. He registered another shot with a good screen, but the Blackhawks were unable to capitalize on the man advantage.
The contest remained scoreless throughout the period and that’s where it ended. The shots were 17 apiece as the Coyotes were lulling the Blackhawks into their type of low-scoring game. Kane and Toews only had one shot each in five-on-five play.
Each team registered some shots early and then Brent Seabrook was called for tripping Crouse at 4:35. A minute into the Coyotes power play, Nick Cousins was able to dangle around Duncan Keith and get a shot off. Crawford made the initial save, but Cousins was able to get his own rebound and put it past Crawford. The Coyotes took the lead at 1–0 with 5:40 remaining.
The game continued on as it did through the first two periods with each team registering shots but not having any luck as a result of good goaltending. Keith was called for tripping Crouse at 18:13 after Crawford had already been pulled. Chicago kept him out of the net for a fifth forward, but it did not matter either way.
The Blackhawks were unable to register a goal to tie the game and the Blackhawks were shut out 1–0. What little hopes they had of making the playoffs have become even more slim.
Do not be fooled that the Blackhawks played a good defensive game. The Coyotes are 28th in the NHL in goals for. They played to their strengths defensively by stymieing the Blackhawks’ shooters and relying on the solid goaltending of Kuemper.
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