Series (Game 1 of 4)

Arizona leads 3-1

Game 1: Thursday, November 5th
Game 2: Friday, February 5th
Game 3: Saturday, March 20th
Game 4: Tuesday, March 23rd

Blackhawks 1

(8-5-1, 17 pts)

Coyotes 3

(10-6-0, 20 pts)

9:00 PM ET, November 5, 2009 Arena, Glendale, Arizona

1 2 3 T
CHI 0 1 01
ARI 2 1 03

M. Hanzal (Coyotes - C): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

I. Bryzgalov (Coyotes - G): Saves: 31, Save Pct.: .969

P. Mueller (Coyotes - RW): Goals: 1, Assists: 0

Blackhawks-Coyotes Preview


The Central Division-leading Chicago Blackhawks have dominated the Phoenix Coyotes recently, and the possible return of captain Jonathan Toews might help them continue that success.

Toews is expected to be a game-time decision Thursday night when the Blackhawks look to beat the Coyotes for a seventh consecutive time.

Chicago (8-4-1) has won six in a row -- including all four meetings last season -- against the Coyotes (9-6-0), outscoring them 23-5.

Getting their captain back in the lineup would provide the Blackhawks with a lift after the All-Star center missed four games with concussion-like symptoms stemming from a hit hard by Vancouver's Willie Mitchell in the third period of a 3-2 loss on Oct. 21.

Toews practiced Wednesday, but isn't sure if he'll be available until just before the start of Thursday's contest.

"It's still to be determined, but I felt great (Wednesday)," Toews said. "Hopefully, it keeps progressing like it has in the past week or so. We'll see how it goes (Thursday) night.

"Coach just wants to make sure that everything is good before I get in there and put myself to the test. Obviously, the game is much different than practice."

Toews, who was nominated for the 2008 Calder Trophy won by teammate Patrick Kane, had a goal and three assists in his last four games after managing one assist in the first five contests of the season. The slow start comes after he led Chicago with 34 goals while adding 35 assists -- both career highs -- in 2008-09.

Toews has four goals and five assists in six games against Phoenix.

The Blackhawks have been good without Toews, going 3-1-0 after beating Montreal 3-2 on Friday as Patrick Sharp scored the winner with 3:10 to play.

"We just wanted to keep moving forward," Sharp said. "Without trying to sound cocky or arrogant, we knew we were going to win."

Sharp's goal against the Canadiens snapped a personal six-game drought after he started the season with five goals in six games. The right wing's 11 points rank him second on the team, one back of Kane.

Sharp has also been a big part of the Blackhawks' success against the Coyotes, tallying three goals and an assist in the last four meetings.

Phoenix has stumbled of late, dropping consecutive games after winning seven of the previous nine. The Coyotes lost again Wednesday, falling 4-1 at Colorado.

"It was a pretty lackluster effort on our part for the better part of two periods," said defenseman Ed Jovanovski, who scored his team-leading fifth goal of the season against the Avalanche after notching nine during all of 2008-09.

If the Coyotes are going to avoid a season-high third straight loss and halt their slide against Chicago, they could use a strong performance from goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who will likely start after posting 25 saves Wednesday.

Bryzgalov is 0-4-2 with a 3.68 goals-against average in his last seven games -- six starts -- versus the Blackhawks. He struggled in his last start against them, making 21 saves in a 7-1 loss Dec. 7.