Phoenix Coyotes edge Chicago Blackhawks in a 3-2 shootout

Coyotes edge Blackhawks in a 3-2 shootout

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Chicago Blackhawks played a desperate Phoenix club and a sporadic effort wasn't enough as their seven game win streak came to an end. On Saturday night, the Coyotes edged the Hawks 3-2 in a shootout in front of 22,272, the largest crowd of the season.

The Blackhawks are a better team than the Coyotes but bad goals and mental mistakes have a way of evening things up. On Friday night versus Nashville, the Hawks got away with a less than focused performance but Phoenix still has playoff aspirations. They stayed alert throughout and in the end snatched an important two points.

Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith played the way he did when defeating the Blackhawks during last season's playoffs. Smith was very good and also had Lady Luck on his side. The Hawks had Smith down and out a few times but couldn't hit the net or shoot the puck directly at him.

The Coyotes deserved the victory and most important the Blackhawks didn't appear to suffer any injuries. If Phoenix does sneak into the playoffs they would likely face Chicago in the first round. The Hawks would have revenge on their minds and as long as they're relatively healthy, they should be able to turn the tide on the Coyotes this season.

Injuries are always a big factor in playoff success but as important or more so is having a top performance from a goaltender. Maybe Corey Crawford has let his guard down a little the last couple of games but he could play better. Crawford did rally as the game went on Saturday night but his two outings this weekend were far from his best. Crawford can shine in shootouts when on top of his game but he was committing too soon versus the Coyotes.

This week Joel Quenneville could be caught between trying to give Crawford some time off and wanting to get him sharp. It appeared Saturday's game would be a chance to give Rockford IceHogs call-up Carter Hutton a start in goal. It doesn't seem as likely Hutton would start on the road versus the Canucks on Monday, but he might now.

Quenneville could have the luxury of falling back on Ray Emery if Crawford stumbles. At the moment Emery is suffering from some sort of a lower body injury and it is not known when he will be ready to return. There is no need to panic because Crawford hasn't stayed in a slump for long this season.

The Hawks will enjoy a Sunday off before traveling to face the Canucks. Vancouver is leading the Northwest Conference by six points over Minnesota. Even though they may be locked into a playoff spot the Canucks should be focused to play the Hawks and not disappoint their home fans.

Al Shot's

The Rockford IceHogs are currently tied with the Milwaukee Admirals for the eighth playoff spot in the West. The IceHogs have completed the AHL regular season and Milwaukee will play their final game Sunday.

If the Admirals lose the IceHogs go to the playoffs as they have more regulation wins. If Milwaukee picks up at least one point the Hogs will fail to qualify. It would be best for the young players in Rockford if they could experience some playoff action.

Brent Seabrook celebrated his 28th birthday in style by scoring two power play goals. Seabrook had never before scored two power play goals in the same game.

Nick Leddy assisted on both Seabrook goals. Leddy has now recorded eight multi-point games.

The Hawks penalty killers have been great this season and have allowed a league low 17 power play goals. Opponents have scored only one power play tally in the last 36 attempts, dating back to March 16.

Patrick Kane became only the second Blackhawk ever to record 50 points during each of his first six seasons in the league. Denis Savard was the only other player in franchise history to accomplish the same feat.

I will be back on Tuesday and you can follow me on Twitter @AlCimaglia.

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