LIVE: Blackhawks, Coyotes need shootout tied at 3

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LIVE: Blackhawks, Coyotes need shootout tied at 3

Sunday Feb. 27, 2011
11:00 a.m.

Associated Press
Things are looking a bit better for the Chicago Blackhawks, but they're far from feeling relaxed.

The Blackhawks look to continue their playoff push and win four straight for the first time in two months Sunday night when they host a Phoenix Coyotes team trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak since early November.

After being four points out of eighth place in the Western Conference following a loss to Columbus last Friday, Chicago (32-23-6) has reeled off three straight wins to pull within one point of the final playoff spot.

"It's all up to us what we do with it," defenseman Duncan Keith said after Thursday's 3-0 victory over Nashville.

Center Patrick Sharp and goaltender Corey Crawford again led the way for Chicago on Thursday.

Sharp had a goal and an assist, giving him four goals and three assists in his last four games. Crawford made 31 saves and is 5-1-1 with a 1.82 goals-against average in his last seven starts.

"(Thursday) I thought was a great team effort," Keith said. "That's what it's going to take."

Joel Quenneville was back on the bench Thursday after missing four games because of a bleeding ulcer. The coach is happy to see Chicago close the gap in the playoff race but knows there is still a lot of work to do with eight teams battling for the final four spots.

"I don't think we're ever in a place where we should feel comfortable," Quenneville said.

The Blackhawks, who haven't won four in a row since Dec. 17-26, have earned 12 of 16 points in their last eight games (5-1-2).

One of those one-point outings came in Arizona on Feb. 12.

Taylor Pyatt and Radim Vrbata scored in regulation for the Coyotes, while Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves and turned aside all three Chicago shootout attempts in a 3-2 win.

Phoenix is 5-1-0 against Chicago since the start of last season after being outscored 23-5 while losing the previous six meetings.

The Coyotes (33-21-9), five points ahead of the Blackhawks for fourth place in the West, arrive in Chicago to conclude a five-game road trip coming off back-to-back disappointing defeats.

After having a season-high eight-game winning streak snapped with an 8-3 loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday, Phoenix squandered a 2-0, first-period lead in Friday's 5-3 defeat to Columbus. Vrbata, David Schlemko and Lauri Korpikoski all scored Friday for the Coyotes, while Bryzgalov made 29 saves but lost for the first time in nine games.

An inability to kill penalties has spurred Phoenix's sudden struggles.

The Coyotes allowed the Blue Jackets to convert 3 of 9 power plays after the Lightning had three man-advantage goals on four opportunities. They had killed 26 of 31 penalties during their winning streak.

"You can't get in a game like this and beat yourself," coach Dave Tippet said after the loss in Columbus. "We jumped out early, we're playing a real strong road game and decided we were going to take a bunch of penalties. That's just unacceptable for us right now."

Phoenix, which hasn't lost three in a row since Nov. 5-8, might fare better against a Chicago team that is just 1 for 8 on the power play in its last four games.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Preview: Blackhawks open preseason against Penguins Wednesday on CSN+

Preview: Blackhawks open preseason against Penguins Wednesday on CSN+

Scott Darling and the Blackhawks open up preseason play against the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, and you can catch all the action on CSN+ at 7:30 p.m. 

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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After World Cup of Hockey, Patrick Kane joins Blackhawks at training camp

After World Cup of Hockey, Patrick Kane joins Blackhawks at training camp

Patrick Kane’s break from the ice lasted less than a week, his time in Toronto serving as a good preseason primer, of sorts.

And with the season about two weeks away, Kane said he’s about where he needs to be.

Kane and Michal Kempny joined the Blackhawks on Tuesday, two of several players beginning to trickle in from their World Cup of Hockey stints. For Kane, the World Cup didn’t go nearly as long as expected – Team USA was ousted in the preliminary round. But now, the focus is on honing things before the season begins.

“I feel pretty good,” Kane said following the second group’s practice on Tuesday. “I feel like everything’s starting to come around right now for sure. I guess, starting to feel kind of like myself again on the ice, so to speak. It’s good to be back in the locker room here with all the guys and back in a Blackhawks uniform, too. It’s always fun coming back. Feels like home, for sure.”

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Kane will not play Wednesday, when the Blackhawks face the Pittsburgh Penguins in their preseason opener. How many preseason games he does get is uncertain; but considering Kane’s time in World Cup of Hockey, the Blackhawks aren’t concerned with him getting rusty.

“He’s going to probably want to do it sooner than later, but I think we can be patient because he’s already been playing games,” assistant coach Mike Kitchen said. “Usually the veteran players when you come into a normal camp, they want to play maybe two or three games to just get their timing. For him, he’s already played quite a few games. There’s no reason to get him in right away, so we’ll just kind of bring him along, especially this early into camp.”

Team USA had a dismal showing at World Cup of Hockey, losing all three games in the preliminary round. But Kane said he’s put that behind him.

“It was a situation, looking back on it now, where we lost to a good team in Europe – they’re in the championship now – and I think at that point there’s a lot of noise from the outside that maybe crept in to our locker room a little bit. We needed to beat Canada. You could say they probably outplayed us but we had chances I that game to keep ourselves in it and ended up losing that one and we were out. But you’re playing in the World Cup of Hockey, you’re playing for your country, it’s always an honor to play for the United States. I’ll always remember playing for my country and always want to do it if you get the opportunity.”

BRIEFLY

  • Duncan Keith skated with the second group on Tuesday. The Blackhawks will continue to monitor him. “He’ll probably want to get maybe a couple of [preseason] games just for his timing, especially for a defenseman, too. Just so he’ll able to get his gap control and things like that. I imagine he’ll want to try and get some games, but we’ll just see how his knee’s come along and how he responds,” Kitchen said. “We don’t want to put him in a situation before we have to because it only is preseason. We’ll just have to monitor that.”
  • Scott Darling is scheduled to play the entire game vs. the Penguins tomorrow.