CHICAGO – The Phoenix Coyotes found a way to win a tight game—at the Chicago Blackhawks’ expense.
Kyle Turris and Eric Belanger scored 35 seconds apart in the second period and backup Jason LaBarbera made 35 saves to help the Coyotes snap a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
“It was a bit of a shaky first, but we came out and really played hard in the second period,” Turris said. “We’ve been losing lots of games in overtime, lots of close ones. It’s really nice to win a close one.”
Phoenix improved to 5-5-5, and the Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks dropped to 8-9-1 with their fourth loss in five games. Chicago also blew a lead at home for the sixth time this season.
“This was a frustrating loss,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “A tough loss. Two points were on the table. The best chance to score in this league is by going into tough areas and looking for the ugly goals. When you try to manufacture empty-net goals and pretty plays, it usually results in a quality opportunity on the rush against you.”
LaBarbera, winless this season in three appearances entering the game, won for the fourth time in four career games against Chicago. He faced 26 shots in the first two periods, but only 10 in the third.
“He gave us a spark,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “We got a chance to throw him in there in a touch building he won in last year. It’s great for him.”
It wasn’t great for the Blackhawks.
“We know it’s unacceptable,” defenceman Brian Campbell said. “We’ve got to be better, all around.”
Turris tied it 6:23 into the second period, rapping Wojtek Wolski’s short pass by goalie Marty Turco. Wolski faked defenceman Nick Boynton to open up the passing lane and free Wolski for the shot.
Belanger made it 2-1 at 6:58 by slapping the puck into the net over Turco’s right shoulder on a 2-on-1. Belanger took a loose puck at centre ice and raced down the right side before shooting.
The outburst by the Coyotes, who took 22 shots, more than answered the game-opening goal by Chicago’s Brian Bickell. His wrist shot through a double screen 9:22 into the first period and caromed off Phoenix defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and past LaBarbera.
The best chance for Chicago after Phoenix took the lead was a deep-angle shot by Tomas Kopecky midway through the third period. LaBarbera hugged the left-wing post and steered it away.
NOTES: Chicago coach Joel Quenneville shifted Patrick Kane from right to left wing, pairing him with centre Tomas Koepcky and right wing Marian Hossa. Kane was held to one shot. … Through 15 games, Phoenix is three points behind its pace of last season, when it made the playoffs for the first time since 2002. … Phoenix forward Shane Doan missed his third consecutive game because of a lower-body injury.