It didn't take long for Jamal Mayers to try to settle the score with Raffi Torres for his head shot to Marian Hossa during the playoffs.
It also didn't take more than 18:25 for the Blackhawks to take a commanding 4-0 lead in Phoenix. In the most complete effort of the road trip the Hawks smoked the Coyotes 6-2.
Sometimes scores are misleading but last night the Blackhawks were as good and the Coyotes as bad as the scoreboard reflected. The Coyotes were careless and took bad penalties while chasing the Hawks for much of the game. In his second start versus Chicago goal tender Mike Smith wasn't on top of his game. Smith looked tentative and bewildered. The Coyotes aren't used to having a bunch of goals scored against them.
Smith has allowed 12 goals versus the Hawks in two games this year. Actually it is in less than two full games as Smith was replaced by backup Jason LaBarbera at the 15:08 mark of the middle frame. The 12 goals scored on Smith, in less than two full games, is the same total he surrendered to the Blackhawks in six playoff battles last spring.
Ray Emery got his second victory versus the Coyotes this season. He was much better than in his first performance in the dessert. Emery is playing his best hockey as a Blackhawk and appears to be moving more smoothly from post to post. Maybe the extra time off may have benefited his surgically repaired hip. Whatever the reason, Emery is in top form.
A great sign for Blackhawk faithful is there have been contributions from every line.
The third line has been really working well together. Andrew Shaw may not be a prototypical NHL center but he does have some hockey smarts. Shaw has a way of making opponents look bad and can embellish penalties without getting called for diving. Shaw's best attribute is he can play a dump and chase game, which is exactly how he notched an assist on Viktor Stalberg's goal. Shaw's other linemate Bryan Bickell has been dialed in and also put one past Smith. The line has worked the boards while keeping the game simple and it has paid dividends.
The big guns led the charge again.
Patrick Kane scored two power play goals during 5 on 3 advantages and was also credited with an assist. Patrick Sharp may have gotten warmed up as he notched three assists and Jonathan Toews chipped in a beautiful goal to go along with an assist. Hossa hardly saw any contact and recorded an assist.
The start of this season, including the current long road trip has been storybook like for the Blackhawks. Out of a possible 22 points they have captured 20, which is a NHL high.
It wasn't as if Mayers dominated Torres in their fight but it sure fired up the Blackhawks and seemed to unhinge the Coyotes. After the fight, Phoenix was whistled for six straight penalties. On the night the Coyotes committed a total of 12 penalties.
The Hawks will conclude their long road journey in Nashville on Sunday night. In many ways this could be the most challenging game of the trip.
The Predators have allowed only three goals in the last four contests. They are riding a four game winning streak, but will play in Minnesota on Saturday night before returning home to face the Hawks.
Kane's 18 points is currently second best in the NHL.
Five different Hawks recorded points versus the Coyotes.
Hawks were 2 of 8 on the power play.
Chicago outshot Phoenix 33-24 and also won 54% of faceoffs.
The Coyotes were credited with 32 hits compared to 12 for the Blackhawks. That's a bit misleading because the Coyotes were chasing the puck for almost the entire game.
I will be back on Monday to share some thoughts.
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