Final SO

Series (Game 2 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

Coyotes 2

(35-18-5, 75 pts)

Blackhawks 1

(37-15-5, 79 pts)

8:30 PM ET, February 5, 2010

United Center, Chicago, Illinois

1 2 3 SO T
ARI 0 1 0 12
CHI 1 0 0 01

A. Aucoin (Coyotes - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

J. LaBarbera (Coyotes - G): Saves: 28, Save Pct.: .966

D. Keith (Blackhawks - D): Goals: 0, Assists: 1

Coyotes-Blackhawks Preview


The Chicago Blackhawks' return to prominence was one of the NHL's top stories in 2008-09. The surprising resiliency of the Phoenix Coyotes is taking that honor this season.

The Coyotes seek a season-high sixth consecutive win and first in Chicago in more than three years Friday night.

The Blackhawks reached the playoffs for the first time in six seasons last spring, and advanced to their first Western Conference finals since 1994-95. This season, Chicago (37-15-4) has paced the Central Division almost from the start.

The Coyotes couldn't have had a much different ending to last season as club missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year, and then filed for bankruptcy in early May to leave the status of the franchise temporarily in limbo.

Though the ownership issue apparently has been solved after an investment group in December pledged to buy the club from the NHL, Phoenix (34-18-5) has been surprising all season, and its gritty play over the past three weeks has helped.

The Coyotes have won eight of 10 in that span with all of their victories coming by fewer than three goals.

Four of the five victories during their current streak have been by one goal or in a shootout, and they used the extra round Tuesday night to post a 1-0 win over Nashville.

"We keep climbing and putting some distance between teams," defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. "I don't know that we're happy, but we're satisfied. As we get to this latter part of the season, the stretch drive, we'd like to gain as many points as we can."

Former Blackhawk Adrian Aucoin scored in the 10th round, and Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots for his 30th win and sixth shutout this season. Bryzgalov, who has a 1.26 goals-against average in his past three games.

"His whole game was impressive," said coach Dave Tippett, whose team also earned a season-high third straight road win. "He gave us a chance to win, and that's all we can ask for."

Tippett's club will face a Blackhawks team that's trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak this season.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville is hoping a second game at the United Center following a season-high eight-game road trip will revive his players.

Top scorer Patrick Kane gave his team a 1-0 edge after one period Wednesday against St. Louis. Cristobal Huet, though, allowed three goals in the final 9:26 of the second, including two in 69 seconds, en route to a 3-2 loss.

"It has always been a tradition that anybody coming off an extended trip that the first game back is always challenging," Quenneville said. "It was kind of a frustrating game."

Marian Hossa scored his team-high fourth short-handed goal for Chicago. It was his third tally in four games

The Blackhawks will be going for their fifth straight home win over Phoenix dating back to Jan. 7, 2007. The Coyotes, though, snapped a six-game overall slide to Chicago with a 3-1 win Nov. 5. Bryzgalov stopped 31 shots, allowing only Kris Versteeg's short-handed goal in the second period.

Huet, made 16 saves in place of an ill Antti Niemi on Wednesday, is expected to start again Friday. Huet has allowed seven goals while losing his last two games, and started opposite Bryzgalov earlier this season.

Huet is 5-1-0 with a tie and a 2.12 GAA in his career versus the Coyotes.