Arizona at Chicago
When: 8:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 23, 2017
Where: United Center, Chicago, Illinois
The Chicago Blackhawks are making a spirited ascent in both the Central Division and Western Conference standings and are banking that a pair of familiar faces once again will lead them to the top of the mountain. Fresh off his fourth regular-season hat trick and second career five-point performance, captain Jonathan Toews looks to send the red-hot Blackhawks to their third straight win and eighth in nine outings on Thursday as they vie for a season sweep of the visiting Arizona Coyotes.
"Jonny's done so many things for us," coach Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times of the 28-year-old Toews, who increased his point total to 20 (eight goals, 12 assists) in his last 12 games following his dominating performance in Tuesday's 5-3 win over Minnesota. "He's an amazing player, as competitive as you'll ever find. What a great leader, and great captain." Reigning Hart Trophy winner Patrick Kane (team-leading 40 assists, 60 points) isn't too shabby in his own right, highlighting his 11-point performance this month with a goal and an assist in the Blackhawks' 4-3 victory over Arizona on Feb. 2. Coyotes rookie Christian Dvorak also scored and set up a goal in that contest and tallied in Monday's 3-2 win over Anaheim to increase his point total to nine (six goals, three assists) in his past nine games.TV:
8:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CSN Chicago, NHL.TVABOUT THE COYOTES (21-30-7):
Veteran goaltender Mike Smith is expected to return to the crease after sitting out the final few minutes against the Ducks following a collision, but not without getting in a shot at the NHL concussion protocol. "I think there's a lot of flaws in the system, especially with the goalie position, and it needs to get fixed," the 34-year-old Smith told The Arizona Republic. "What stops a fourth liner from going and bumping into a goalie? It's just a two-minute penalty to get your starting goalie out? I don't think it's happened in a playoff game yet, but I'm sure it will." Louis Domingue (lower body) is expected to back up Smith, prompting the club to assign fellow netminder Marek Langhamer to Tucson of the American Hockey League on Wednesday.ABOUT THE BLACKHAWKS (37-18-5):
Toews' linemates naturally have been producing as well with Richard Panik scoring and setting up a goal on Tuesday to increase his point total to nine (five goals, four assists) in his past six games while rookie Nick Schmaltz added a tally and two assists to give him seven points in the same stretch. Schmaltz, who celebrates his 21st birthday on Thursday, credits a 12-game stint with Rockford of the AHL for helping him get his head on straight prior to his return to the Blackhawks on Jan. 15. "Obviously, you don't ever want to get sent down," Schmaltz told the Chicago Sun-Times. "But a lot of guys go through it. In the long run, when I look back at it, I can see it was definitely beneficial. That time in Rockford really made a difference for me."OVERTIME
1. Chicago D Duncan Keith has recorded eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his past seven games to move within one of 500 for his career.
2. Arizona veteran RW Radim Vrbata (team-leading 29 assists) set up a goal in the most recent encounter versus the Blackhawks and has a tally and five assists during his current six-game point streak.
3. Chicago G Scott Darling turned aside all 22 shots he faced in a 4-0 win over the Coyotes on Dec. 6, improving to 2-0-0 with a 1.00 goals-against average in his career versus the club.PREDICTION:
Blackhawks 4, Coyotes 1
Stats and Records