The Phoenix Coyotes are usually busy making multiple moves at the trade deadline, acquiring young talent and future draft picks as another disappointing season winds down.
This season, however, the Coyotes stayed relatively quiet, and they’ll look to continue their playoff push when they visit the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday.
Phoenix (32-26-5), which hasn’t made the playoffs since 2002, finished last in the Western Conference with 67 points last season. With 19 regular-season games left this season, however, the Coyotes have already earned 69 points and are three points out of the West’s final playoff spot.
“We’re right there, right in the race,” Phoenix center Joel Perrault said. “We know what we have to do and how many games we have to win to get in the playoffs.”
Before Tuesday’s deadline, Phoenix acquired left wing Marcel Hossa and minor league goaltender Al Montoya from the New York Rangers for right wing Fredrik Sjostrom and a pair of minor leaguers - goaltender David LeNeveu and left wing Josh Gratton.
The Coyotes weren’t expected to be much of a contender this season, but solid play from rookies Peter Mueller (19 goals, 23 assists) and Martin Hanzal (six goals, 21 assists) has them in position to make a run at the playoffs.
They are coming off a 2-0 win over St. Louis on Sunday, and are 4-1-1 since Feb. 14.
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 18 shots in the first period Sunday and finished with 35 saves for his second shutout of the season.
“It was one of the best games I’ve seen him play and he’s played some good ones here,” coach Wayne Gretzky said.
Bryzgalov is 4-1-2 with a 2.06 goals-against average lifetime against the Blackhawks, but has lost both of his starts versus them this season. He made 23 saves in the Coyotes’ 2-1 shootout loss to Chicago on Jan. 19, and allowed five goals on seven shots before being pulled in their 6-1 defeat at the United Center on Nov. 30.
The Blackhawks (29-27-6) have won two of three over Phoenix this season.
Chicago made two trades at the deadline, sending forward Tuomo Ruutu to Carolina for left wing Andrew Ladd, and shipping Martin Lapointe to Ottawa for a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft. The 22-year-old Ladd has nine goals and nine assists in 43 games this season.
The Blackhawks, who are eight points back of the final playoff spot in the West, lost to Anaheim 6-3 on Sunday.
Lalime allowed two goals on the first five shots and was pulled at 8:38 of the first period against the Ducks, but came back for the start of the second. He is 1-2-0 with a 4.97 GAA in his last three games after going 6-2-0 with a 1.71 GAA in his previous eight.
In his only start against Phoenix this season on Jan. 19, Lalime stopped 38 shots in the shootout victory. He is 6-2-1 with a 1.82 GAA and one shutout lifetime against the Coyotes.
Patrick Sharp has two goals and an assist in each of his last two games, giving him nine goals and four assists in 11 contests this month. Sharp, who leads the Blackhawks with 31 goals, hasn’t scored in the three games against the Coyotes this season.
Rookie Jonathan Toews had three assists on Sunday, and has three goals and seven assists in eight games after missing the previous 16 with a sprained knee. The Blackhawks are 5-2-1 since Toews returned to the lineup after going 5-9-2 without him.
In his only game against the Coyotes on Nov. 30, Toews had one goal and two assists.