CHICAGO – Dustin Byfuglien and the resurgent Chicago Blackhawks made quick work of the Phoenix Coyotes on Friday night.
Byfuglien scored three consecutive goals in the first period for his first multi-goal game and added an assist in Chicago’s 6-1 victory Friday night, the Blackhawks’ fifth straight win at home.
Byfuglien, playing his 47th NHL game, tied the Chicago record for goals in a game by a defenceman set in 1977 by Dick Redmond and matched by Doug Wilson in 1991. Byfuglien entered the contest with three goals and an assist in 12 games this season.
The Blackhawks, who have missed the playoffs in eight of the previous nine seasons, improved to 14-9-2. Chicago has had an anemic offence for several years, but has 77 goals so far this season – second only to Detroit in the Western Conference – and has outscored opponents 11-2 in its last two contests
“It was just a good effort all around,” Byfuglien said. “Everyone was in good position and moved the puck around. I just got the shots and they all went in.
“We’ve got talented guys to work with. It’s great to see us getting on a roll.”
Tuomo Ruutu added two goals, rookie Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists, and NHL rookie scoring leader Patrick Kane also had two assists. Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 28 shots, allowing only Peter Mueller’s breakaway goal with 7:57 left.
“We have to keep playing the same way, we can’t get comfortable,” Ruutu said of the Blackhawks’ vastly improved play. “This means you work harder, because you don’t want to go back to the old days.”
Phoenix goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was pulled at 10:30 of the first period after allowing five goals – capped by Byfuglien’s natural hat trick – on seven shots. Mikael Tellqvist replaced him and allowed a goal on 20 shots.
Bryzgalov, claimed off waivers from Anaheim on Nov. 17, made his sixth straight start since joining the Coyotes. In his first five games with Phoenix, he was 4-1-0 with a 1.58 goals-against average, and had allowed eight goals on 137 shots.
“We had a good atmosphere in the locker room before the game,” Ruutu said. “At the same time, almost all out shots went in. We were a little but lucky.”
A couple of the early goals seemed soft, but Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky didn’t single out Bryzgalov for the Coyotes’ poor start.
“You make your own breaks,” he said. “We didn’t answer the bell.”
And Gretzky credited the Blackhawks for a fast start.
“They’re playing with a great deal of confidence and emotion,” he said. “They have much more speed and, obviously, more finesse. Talent goes a long way.”
The Blackhawks scored on their first three shots and five times in the first period to take control early.
Ruutu opened the scoring just 1:15 in when his shot from right wing glanced in off Bryzgalov’s left arm.
Toews made it 2-0 at 3:57. After Brent Sopel’s centring pass to Patrick Sharp bounded back to the right circle, Toews fired in a shot with Bryzgalov out of position.
Byfuglien’s first goal made it 3-0 at 5:01. He scored from the slot after taking a centring pass from Sergei Samsonov.
Byfuglien then scored power-play goals just 16 seconds apart midway through the period – both from the top of the left circle – to extend Chicago’s lead to 5-0.
Both scores were set up by Kane. The first was during a 5-on-3 Chicago advantage; the second during a 5-on-4.
Ruutu’s notched his second goal, on a deflection of Jim Vandermeer’s shot from the point, at 8:10 of the second to make it 6-0.
Mueller made it 6-1 with 7:57 left in the third when he beat made move around Byfuglien and beat Khabibulin with a high backhand shot.
Notes: The Blackhawks’ first-period outburst marked the second time this season they scored five times in a period. … Chicago D James Wisniewski sat out second game a facial injury. RW Rene Bourque missed his fifth game with a broken thumb. Rookie C Jacob Dowell missed his first game with a broken right foot, suffered Wednesday against Tampa Bay. He’ll miss two to four weeks. … Phoenix D Ed Jovanovski served a one-game suspension Friday for hitting Minnesota’s Marian Gaborik in the head Wednesday night.