Coyotes fall to Hawks in wake of Tocchet allegations

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Craig Anderson and the Chicago Blackhawks took advantage of the distracted Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night.

Anderson made 23 saves and Radim Vrbata and Martin Lapointe scored 1:24 apart in the second period to help the Blackhawks beat Phoenix 3-1, a game Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet missed because of a gambling investigation.

"So much of this game is mental," Anderson said. "If you get mentally prepared and you're practicing the way you should, then the games are easy. It's just a mind-set. Work hard in practice and the game becomes easy."

New Jersey police authorities said Tuesday that Tocchet financed a nationwide sports gambling ring that took bets -- but not on hockey -- from Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky's wife and about a half-dozen NHL players.

At the request of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Tocchet did not attend the game. In a statement, the Coyotes said Tocchet "was flying back East this evening to address the allegations in a meeting with Bettman."

Tocchet was served with a criminal complaint Monday and was expected to travel to New Jersey to answer charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy.

"We didn't play very well," Gretzky said. "I know my team gives me an honest effort every night and that's all I can ask."

After the Coyotes took a 1-0 lead on Geoff Sanderson's goal midway through the first period, the Blackhawks scored the final
three goals.

Vrbata drove a shot from the right point that Phoenix defenseman Keith Ballard deflected behind Curtis Joseph at 21 seconds of the second period.

Phoenix defenseman Sean O'Donnell then gave away the puck to set by Lapointe's goal at 1:45. Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook
intercepted O'Donnell's pass at the right faceoff circle and fired a perfect pass to Lapointe at the left of the goal crease.

The Blackhawks added an insurance goal when Mark Bell fired a shot from the right point that found its way behind Joseph at 10:55 of the third period.

"We were stingy and more effective defensively," Lapointe said. "Guys were scared to get caught in the zone, and that was good. We wanted to get the puck out."

Phoenix is 2-3-1 on its 10-game homestand.

"It's disappointing," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "You have a chance at home to make a stand and we haven't done that. We have had six games at home and have not taken care of business. When you do that, it's really frustrating."

Game notes
Chicago is in the middle of a six-game trip. The Blackhawks opened the trip with a shootout loss in St. Louis and were shut out in Nashville. ... Sanderson's goal was his 16th of the season.