CHICAGO (AP)—In what Chicago coach Joel Quenneville had billed as the biggest game of the year, the Blackhawks got the kind of goaltending they’ll need once the playoffs start.
“Nobody gets those too often, so it gives you more confidence,” Niemi said.
The win allowed the Blackhawks to take over the points lead in the Western Conference, where they have 99. San Jose has 98 and Coyotes 97.
“A big win,” Niemi said. “I think we played more compact on our own end than last time. Even when we were leading 2-0, we wanted to play good defense and not give them too many scoring chances.”
Patrick Kane(notes) and Marian Hossa(notes) scored second-period goals for Chicago, which beat the Coyotes for the first time in four meetings this season. Phoenix’s nine-game winning streak that tied a franchise record had included a shootout win over the Blackhawks on Saturday night when Chicago twice squandered two-goal leads.
“I’m sure there’s some disappointment. We’ve been on a good run and we’ve got some bounces our way and tonight we didn’t generate enough to earn those bounces,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.
“We all know the meaning of the game and the implications of the conference,” Quenneville said. “They are on an amazing roll. That’s a good hockey team … It never looked like it would be easy. Antti persevered to the end.”
Kane fired a high shot from the middle of the left circle that eluded Ilya Bryzgalov(notes) on the glove side, 1:45 into the second. It was Kane’s team-high 28th goal of the season and gave him 20 points in his past 15 games.
In the final period with the Coyotes on a power play, Niemi again turned away a close-in shot from Pyatt.
“I thought that was a goalie win. He made some amazing saves,” Quenneville said.
“They came out and had a better start than us. They scored on their chances. We had a lot of chances, or a lot of pucks laying in the crease,” he said.
“The other goalie played well and you’d like to see us bear down a little bit more and finish a couple of those chances because we certainly had ours.”
The Coyotes’ Shane Doan(notes) skated behind the net and scored an apparent goal to give Phoenix a first-period lead. But the score was disallowed because the Coyotes’ Matthew Lombardi(notes) was in the crease.
“Teams like Chicago and San Jose, a month ago they were out of reach for us, so we know that we’ve played some good hockey,” the Coyotes’ Adrian Aucoin(notes) said. “Tonight shows we can still get better.”
Notes: Chicago D Brent Seabrook(notes) returned to the lineup after missing two games with a concussion. He was leveled last Wednesday by Anaheim’s James Wisniewski(notes), who drew an eight-game suspension for the hit against his former Chicago teammate. Seabrook got a big cheer in the second when he drove Vernon Fiddler(notes) into the boards. He said there were no lingering effects from his injury … The Winnipeg Jets, who moved to Phoenix in 1996, also won nine in a row from March 8-27, 1985. … The Blackhawks are 5-4-2 since the Olympic break. They have 10 shutouts this season total. … Chicago D Brian Campbell(notes), who will miss the rest of the regular season with a broken collarbone and broken rib after a hit from Washington’s Alex Ovechkin(notes) on March 14, said he has no target date for a return. There is a slim possibility he could be back, if the Blackhawks go deep into the playoffs.