The Coyotes defeated the Blackhawks seven times last season, winning three out of four meetings in the regular season and then eliminating the Blackhawks from the playoffs in the first round in six games. Five of the playoff games were decided in overtime.
The two teams meet for the first time this season in Phoenix at 9 p.m. CST on Sunday. The Blackhawks are coming off a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon, and the Coyotes lost 4-3 to the Dallas Stars on Saturday night.
Following their one-sided victory on Saturday, the Blackhawks were eager to get back on the ice and face a team they now consider a rival.
“We’re going in there; we’re going to carry this momentum,” Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford said. “Obviously we want to get some payback from last year.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville hoped his team would change its pattern against the Coyotes from last season. He knows the Coyotes had the Blackhawks’ number.
“Going into that game, hey, you got a little bit of a rivalry when you play a team in the playoffs,” Quenneville said. “We have a history there. I think that the motivation is to win a hockey game. We had a tough time in that series and during the regular season as well. They played us tight.”
Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane thinks a victory Sunday could work as some revenge.
“Anytime you play a team in the playoffs, especially when they beat you, you’re going to want revenge,” said Kane, who scored the team’s first goal on Saturday. “It’ll be nice to get back at them.”
Kane also alluded to getting revenge on Coyotes forward Raffi Torres at some point.
Torres illegally hit Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa in the head during Game 3 of their playoff series. Hossa had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher and missed the remainder of the series. Torres was originally suspended 25 games, but it was reduced to 21 games after an appeal.
Torres won’t be in action for Sunday’s game as he hasn’t served his full suspension yet. He missed the final 13 games of the playoffs last season and did not play on Saturday. He now has seven games remaining on the suspension.
Kane wasn’t sure if there would be any extracurricular activities on Sunday, but he thought something could happen when the Blackhawks see Torres again. The two teams are scheduled to face each other again in Phoenix on Feb. 7.
“We’ll see what happens,” Kane said of Sunday’s game. “I don’t think Torres is playing. We’ll see what happens. I’m sure when he’s back you’ll probably see a little fireworks.”
If anyone has a right to be motivated for Sunday’s game, Hossa would be the one. But he didn’t envision Sunday being anything out of the ordinary for him.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t think about it that way,” Hossa said. “It’s just another game for me.”