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Hamilton scores hat trick, adds two assists, Blackhawks defeat Coyotes 7-5

Hamilton picked his second three-goal game of the season and added two assists to lead the Chicago Blackhawks to their third straight victory, 7-5 over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.

"As a line, we talk a great deal, that makes things much easier," Hamilton said. "Real solid game by our line, and with the three-game winning streak, we're on a little roll here."

Patrick Sharp scored twice and Rene Bourque had three assists. Nikolai Khabibulin stopped 32 shots to pick up the win, and Tuomo Ruutu and Mikael Holmqvist also scored for the Blackhawks.

Chicago coach Denis Savard pointed to his team's improved fundamental approach during their recent wins.

"If you are going to win at this level, you have forecheck and go deep in the zone," he said. "That way, you create turnovers, and that's what happened in that first period."

The Hawks managed five goals on 17 shots against Mikael Tellqvist in the opening period, and then carried the play through the final 40 minutes.

Bill Thomas, Mike Zigomanis and Jeff Taffe scored for Phoenix in the first period. The Coyotes lost their fifth straight and have only two wins in their last 12 games (2-9-1). Tellqvist was replaced after the rough first period, and Curtis Joseph stopped 12 of 14 shots he faced the rest of the way.

"We got beat bad, and it was awful," said Phoenix captain Shane Doan. "We battled the whole game and kept coming back, but we did give up seven goals."

The Blackhawks led 4-0 less than 11½ minutes into the game.

First, Ruutu converted a pass from Martin Havlat in front for his 14th of the season at 6:31. Chicago picked up its second goal exactly two minutes later when Sharp moved from his backhand to the forehand, and got his 14th of the season.

Then, less than three minutes later, the Blackhawks scored twice in 17 seconds. Sharp picked up his second of the game with a power-play tally at 11:04. That was quickly followed by Homlqvist's fifth of the season at 11:21.

Thomas got the Coyotes on the scoreboard with a power-play goal at 13:29, and Zigomanis made it 4-2 with his 12th just 1:15 later. Zigomanis' shot barely made it inside the left post, and the goal was allowed after a video review.

Hamilton scored his first goal of the game at 17:58, and Taffe's power-play score at 19:11 pulled Phoenix within two again.

Hamilton got the eventual game-winner when he tipped in a shot from Bourque at 16:33 of the second, and then made it 7-3 when he broke in alone on Joseph and scored unassisted at 19:23. Hamilton, who assisted on both of Sharp's goals, also had a hat trick on Dec. 7 against Nashville.

"In the second period, we had guys skating, going to the net, and working their tails off," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "We had an opportunity to get into the hockey game, but we didn't get one shot on three power-play chances."

Daniel Carcillo and Mathias Tjarnqvist scored in the third for Phoenix. For Carcillo, it was his first career goal.

The Blackhawks' David Koci, a 6-6, 228 pounder from the Czech Republic, picked up 42 penalty minutes on just 2:31 of playing time in his first NHL game. His time in the penalty box included three fighting majors and a game misconduct.

"I came here as a tough guy, trying to protect the stars," he said. "That was an exciting game for me, and I got in lots of work."

Notes: The Hawks' five-goal first tied a season high for scoring in a period. The Blackhawks also had a five-goal first in a 6-4 win at Columbus on Dec. 16. ... The Coyotes matched a season-high five goals they allowed in the second period of a 9-2 loss at Detroit on Oct. 11. ... Thomas left the game early in the third period after he was checked hard at centre-ice.


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