Blackhawks-Coyotes Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated February 06, 2014

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 21: Head coach Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks watches as his team takes on the Vancouver Canucks at the United Center on October 14, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Canucks defeated the Blackhawks 3-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Coach Joel Quenneville admitted to having some concern about how the Chicago Blackhawks would fare during their long road trip after heading into it in the midst of their worst slump of the season. Now he hopes Chicago can ride its current hot streak into the Olympic break. The Blackhawks won't have Patrick Kane as they try to win three straight for the first time in nearly two months Friday night against the Phoenix Coyotes. Chicago (35-10-14) began its trip with a 5-4 overtime loss to Calgary on Jan. 28, which marked its season-worst fourth straight defeat. They've gone 3-0-1 since, including multiple-goal wins over Vancouver, Los Angeles and Anaheim. Marian Hossa and captain Jonathan Toews scored in Wednesday's 2-0 win over the Ducks, and Corey Crawford made 29 saves for his first shutout of the season. Chicago hasn't won three straight since Dec. 8-11. ''The last handful of games on this trip, we've got back to the way we need to play,'' Toews said. ''(Anaheim is) a tough team to do that to, and we have to feel good about what we were able to accomplish.'' Hossa, who has three goals and four assists during a five-game point streak, has scored in both meetings with Phoenix. The Blackhawks won 5-4 in a shootout Nov. 14 and 5-2 on the road Nov. 30, and they've gone 4-0-1 in the series since losing to the Coyotes in six games in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. "We have some momentum going into this game, so we want to make sure we take care of business and prepare the way we have for every game on this trip," Quenneville said. "We've gone to three tough buildings in a row and we're assuming the fourth one will be tough as well." The last game before 10 Blackhawks head to the Olympics may be even tougher without Kane, who will attend his grandfather's funeral in Buffalo before leaving for Sochi to play with Team USA. Kane's 63 points (27 goals, 36 assists) lead the Blackhawks, and Quenneville will have to alter his lines in Kane's absence. "Kaner gives you so many different looks and options," Quenneville said. "We'll probably move (Brandon) Saad up (to the second line) and see what he does there. (Brandon) Pirri might get some power-play time. It's a good opportunity for some guys to get some more quality ice time." Chicago has won its last five road matchups, including postseason, with Phoenix, which dropped to 2-2-0 on a five-game homestand with Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Dallas. The Coyotes (26-20-10) will face the Stars on the road Saturday before the break. Antoine Vermette scored Tuesday to give him eight goals and three assists during a career-best eight-game point streak. Phoenix is sitting just outside the Western Conference playoff picture and will be in for a battle for the final wild-card spot after the Olympics. ''It was really disappointing,'' Vermette said. ''We have to find a way to win these games.'' Mike Smith made 37 saves, though its unclear if he or Thomas Greiss will be in net with Phoenix playing again Saturday. Crawford, who has a 1.47 goals-against average over Chicago's last four, should get the start. Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg will serve as best man in the wedding for former Chicago prospect and current Coyotes forward Rob Klinkhammer during the Olympic break. "I need to review what he's planning to say for the toast and see if it's appropriate," Klinkhammer told the team's official website.
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