LIVE: Blackhawks trail in Phoenix, 2-1 after 2nd

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LIVE: Blackhawks trail in Phoenix, 2-1 after 2nd

Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011
11:00 a.m.

Associated Press

By tightening up their defense, the Phoenix Coyotes have quickly put a disappointing stretch behind them.

The Coyotes look to win their fourth in a row Saturday night when they host the banged-up Chicago Blackhawks, who hope to bounce back from a discouraging loss heading into the finale of a six-game road trip.

After recording consecutive shutouts for the first time in his career against Minnesota last Saturday and Colorado on Monday, Ilya Bryzgalov made 16 saves for Phoenix (28-19-9) in Wednesday's 3-2 overtime win in Dallas. Radim Vrbata scored a power-play goal 1:13 into the extra period for the Coyotes, who are one-point ahead of eighth-place Calgary in the Western Conference.

"We have to play the way we've played the last three games," said Vrbata, who has three goals in his last two.

That means continuing to limit the number of shots their goaltender has to face.

Phoenix has allowed an average of 23.0 shots in winning its last three after yielding an average of 34.3 in its previous six. The Coyotes had lost six of eight prior to this winning streak, allowing at least four goals in each of those defeats.

"Our identity is to play a tight game, like you've seen the last three," forward Lee Stempniak said. "The big thing for us is to not have to go out and score five or six goals to get a win, if we can limit them to two goals, we have a way better chance to get a win."

The Coyotes are 20-0-3 when allowing two goals or fewer.

The Blackhawks (28-22-5) scored twice just over four minutes into Friday's game against Dallas, and took a 3-0 lead less than 13 minutes in, but ended up losing 4-3 in a shootout. It was the fifth loss in seven games for Chicago, which has been outscored 9-2 in the third period of those defeats.

"Every time we lose, it's the same thing that happens and we don't change it," said captain Jonathan Toews, who has two goals and 10 assists during a season-high six-game point streak. "We had a good first period, and we had a good effort, we were doing the right things and somehow it goes away in the second. I don't understand what's going on and the writing's on the wall. We get satisfied and we give teams a chance to come back ..."

The Blackhawks had a tough time Friday overcoming the loss of right wing Fernando Pisani, center Ryan Johnson and left wing Viktor Stalberg, as all three sustained upper-body injuries and didn't return. Coach Joel Quenneville said the three are day-to-day and will be evaluated on Saturday.

The Blackhawks are 11th in the West and three points behind the Flames, but Quenneville is trying to remain optimistic.

"We have a chance to be .500 on this trip, so we look at it in a positive way, and go from there," he said.

Quenneville is expected to go with Corey Crawford in net after backup Marty Turco played in his return to Dallas. Crawford, who has never faced Phoenix, is 1-3-0 with a 2.53 goals-against average in his last four starts after going 4-0-1 with a 0.97 GAA and two shutouts in his previous five.

This will be the first meeting between these teams since the Coyotes' 2-1 win in Chicago on Nov. 10. Phoenix is 4-1-0 against the Blackhawks since the start of last season, after being outscored 23-5 while losing the previous six meetings.

New Orleans has struggled in back-to-back scenarios, going 5-7 when playing for the second consecutive night.

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Blackhawks among teams in contention to land Jimmy Vesey

Blackhawks among teams in contention to land Jimmy Vesey

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said at the ninth annual Blackhawks Convention that he's prepared to enter the 2016-17 season with the roster as currently constructed, but there could be one more addition coming, and an impactful one at that.

Coveted free agent forward Jimmy Vesey will hit the open market on Aug. 15, and the Blackhawks are reportedly among the short list of teams set to meet with him when he's eligible to speak with other clubs next month.

"Chicago will be a team we want to talk to on Aug. 15," Vesey's agent Peter Donatelli told Scott Powers of The Athletic over the phone Monday. "Chicago will be on the list, but it shouldn't be read as they're ahead of anyone else.

"He really has no idea where he's going to be. It's going to be up to the teams to sell him. ... Yes, [we have criteria], but we're interested in what the teams say rather than telling the teams what they have to say."

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Vesey is currently property of the Buffalo Sabres after the Nashville Predators, who originally drafted him with the No. 66 overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, traded the 23-year-old left winger's negotiating rights in June for a 2016 third-round selection when it became apparent the two sides wouldn't be able to hammer out a deal.

What makes Vesey and Chicago a perfect match for each other is there's a legitimate spot open in the top-six to potentially play alongside Jonathan Toews, and because Vesey would be signing an entry-level contract, the maximum allowable salary is $925,000 per year, which benefits the cap-strapped Blackhawks.

Vesey is a two-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, and captured the award as the best player in college hockey last season after scoring 24 goals and adding 22 assists in 33 games with Harvard University, where he played four years.

The previous two Hobey Baker Award winners are Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames (2014) and Jack Eichel of the Sabres (2015), so the possibility of Vesey landing in Chicago could immediately give the Blackhawks another dynamic scoring option.

CSN to air five Blackhawks preseason games

CSN to air five Blackhawks preseason games

The Blackhawks announced their 2016 preseason television broadcast schedule on Tuesday, and you can catch five of the six total contests here on Comcast SportsNet. 

The Blackhawks will open their preseason slate on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m. on CSN Plus when the reigning Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins come to town. Their six-game slate comes against just three opponents as they will face the Penguins, Blues and Red Wings twice over the span of two weeks. 

Ticket information for the 2016 preseason will be announced at a later date. 

Here is the Blackhawks' full preseason television broadcast schedule:

David Rundblad, Blackhawks mutually part ways

David Rundblad, Blackhawks mutually part ways

The Blackhawks and David Rundblad have mutually agreed to terminate the defenseman’s contract, as generalfanager.com reported on Monday night.

With the contract terminated, the Blackhawks will not carry any type of Rundblad-related cap hit. If the Blackhawks had bought out Rundblad, they would have carried a $133,333 cap hit this season and a $183,333 the next season.

Per generalfanager.com, the Blackhawks now have approximately $2.3 million in cap space.

Rundblad was placed on waivers on July 1. The defenseman spent part of the 2015-16 season playing in Switzerland. He returned to the Blackhawks last spring and played in three of the team’s seven playoff games against the St. Louis Blues.

But Rundblad could never find a consistent place in the Blackhawks’ lineup. General manager Stan Bowman talked in July of Rundblad wanting a fresh start.

“He’s still a young guy, wants to get back to playing a lot of hockey and that’s why he wanted to go to Europe mid-season. We were willing to honor that request. We’ll let him find a spot where he knows he’ll be a regular player every day,” Bowman said in July. “He has a bright future. We wish him well. But it’s hard as a guy trying to establish yourself in the NHL if you don’t play a lot of minutes. But I think we’ll see David back in the NHL in a few years. I think he wants to find a better fit where he’ll play a lot.”