With three wins over the Phoenix Coyotes already under their belts, the Chicago Blackhawks aim to sweep the season series between the franchises for the first time in nearly 20 years when the teams face off at Jobing.com Arena on Tuesday night.
Chicago (21-8-7) has won five consecutive meetings with Phoenix (19-16-5) dating to last season, and has outscored the Coyotes 13-4 in the first three games of the 2008-09 series. The Blackhawks are looking to sweep the Coyotes franchise for the first time since 1988-89, when they were known as the Winnipeg Jets.
Numerous penalty minutes have marked this season’s three meetings, including a total of 76 as Chicago routed visiting Phoenix 7-1 on Dec. 7.
That contest marked the start of the Blackhawks’ franchise-record nine-game winning streak, but defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit ended that run with a home-and-home sweep last week, capped by Thursday’s 6-4 Blackhawks loss in the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field.
Back at the United Center on Sunday, Chicago regrouped with a 5-2 win over Calgary. Martin Havlat, Andrew Ladd and Patrick Sharp each had a goal and an assist and Nikolai Khabibulin made 34 saves effort for the Blackhawks, who halted the Flames’ five-game winning streak.
“We move forward,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “I like the way we handled (Sunday night). We played a team that’s playing very well and it was a very important win for us.”
The victory came without leading scorer Patrick Kane, who missed the first game of his career with a high ankle sprain after playing through the pain for 18 minutes of the Winter Classic.
The reigning Calder Trophy winner remains day-to-day, but his teammates appear confident regardless of his status.
“With Kaner out, guys have to step up, kind of do it by committee,” said Ladd, whose 25 points are five shy of the career high he set in 63 games for Carolina and Chicago last season. “If it’s me (Sunday night) and another guy another guy the next night, that’s what we need.”
Ladd had a career high with four points - a goal and three assists - in last month’s win over the Coyotes.
Phoenix has won seven of its last nine home games, and will look to bounce back after falling 2-0 at Anaheim on Sunday. The shutout loss was the fourth of the season for the Coyotes, and their second in four games.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 32 saves in his return after missing two games with a sore back, but expressed frustration after a pair of penalties for too many men on the ice led to two power-play goals for Anaheim.
“This is not our first game,” Bryzgalov said. “It’s one thing when you save a breakaway and you get the penalty. It’s another when you get it for nothing.”
Mikael Tellqvist will start Tuesday, according to the Coyotes’ official Web site. He is 3-0-0 with a 2.60 goals-against average in his last five games against the Blackhawks.
Former Jet and Coyote Khabibulin, meanwhile, is 9-3-1 with a 1.82 GAA in 13 career games against Phoenix. Chicago’s Cristobal Huet has also thrived against the Coyotes, with four wins and a tie in five matchups.