Rapid Reaction: Coyotes 2, Hawks 0
February, 7, 2014
By Ryan Dittrick | Special to ESPNChicago.com
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night at Jobing.com Arena.
How it happened: The Blackhawks started slowly and couldn’t climb the 6-foot-4 mountain, Mike Smith, once they got engaged in the game. A power-play goal by Keith Yandle 69 seconds into the game put the Hawks in a hole, which was made worse by yet another man-advantage marker scored late in the second by Radim Vrbata. The Blackhawks got better as the game wore on, but Smith was there to preserve the victory, pitching a 30-save shutout in front of a record-breaking crowd of 17,525 in Glendale.
The Blackhawks hadn’t been shut out since Feb. 25, 2012, when they dropped a 4-0 score to the Los Angeles Kings.
What it means: The Blackhawks (35-11-14) saw their two-game winning streak snapped and will head into the Olympic break with 84 points. Chicago is currently atop the Central Division standings, but that could change, pending the outcome of Saturday’s game between the Winnipeg Jets and St. Louis Blues. The Coyotes (27-20-10), meanwhile, have overtaken the Vancouver Canucks for a playoff spot and are now only four points back of the Kings in the Pacific Division.
Player of the game: Smith was exceptional when he had to be. The 31-year-old posted his second shutout of the season, improving to 20-16-0 overall.
Stat of the game: The Coyotes are now 9-0-2 this season (79-17-11 overall) when Vrbata scores a goal.
What’s next: Ten Blackhawks are off to Sochi, Russia, to participate in the Olympic Winter Games. Chicago’s next game is Feb. 27 against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.