Eager to put a sour start to the season behind them, the Chicago Blackhawks will try to extend their winning streak to three on Friday night as they host the Arizona Coyotes to close a three-game homestand.
The Blackhawks started the surge with Sunday’s 2-1 overtime win against Nashville one day after the firing of coach Jeremy Colliton. On Tuesday, Chicago squandered a two-goal lead in the third period before rallying to top Pittsburgh in a shootout.
“It feels nice,” Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “Just walking in the room seeing guys smile at practice, before the games, during the game. We want to do better for this team and for the fans. It was definitely a frustrating start to the season, and I’m glad the last two games feel better and we’re going to keep building on that and try to put on a good show at home.”
Interim coach Derek King has sensed added oomph and lessened stress since taking the reins.
Still, he is cautious about putting too much stock in recent developments and in noting that his record remains perfect as an NHL head coach.
“Listen, it’s two wins,” King said. “There’s some cleaning up to do, obviously. But at least the battle level is there, the accountability is there, and you can see these guys are actually playing for each other.”
Arizona will meet Chicago in the opener of a three-game road trip that includes stops to fellow Central Division foes Nashville and St. Louis. After edging the expansion Seattle Kraken 5-4 on Friday to earn their first victory of the season, the Coyotes lost 5-2 to the visiting Minnesota Wild Wednesday night.
Andrew Ladd converted a breakaway for the Coyotes’ first goal as they aimed to rally from an early 2-0 deficit.
It was the second goal of the season for Ladd, who spent parts of four seasons with the Blackhawks and was part of the club’s Stanley Cup championship team in 2010.
“Anytime you put the puck in the net there’s a little confidence to be gained there,” Ladd said.
To do so, however, you must advance the puck from your own zone. Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny expressed concern over the team’s ability in that department following Wednesday’s game.
“The big key for us is the way we get the puck out of our zone,” Tourigny said. “We need to be more efficient. When you give a second or third chance to your opponent to attack you on the breakout, it makes it tough.”
After playing in his 913th consecutive game Wednesday, Phoenix forward Phil Kessel is set to tie Garry Unger for third place in NHL history. Keith Yandle of the Philadelphia Flyers enters play Friday with 933 consecutive games played. Doug Jarvis holds the league record with 964 consecutive games played from Oct. 8, 1975, to Oct. 10, 1987.
Chicago is hoping to improve on its middle-of-the-pack power play, which ranked 17th at 20 percent before Thursday’s games. The Coyotes have yielded 15 power-play goals this season, the second-highest total in the NHL.
–Field Level Media