With their young team, there will be plenty of highs and lows for the rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks.
As the Blackhawks head into Monday’s road game with the Arizona Coyotes in Tempe, Ariz., they will be feeling the effect of rare air.
The Blackhawks are coming off Friday’s impressive 4-3 overtime victory over the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights and hoping to sweep a brief two-game road trip.
“It’s great for us because we’re a young team and we beat the defending champs, so it’s a great confidence boost for us,” forward Philipp Kurashev said. “I think we can learn a lot from it and take good things from it, and hopefully we can build on something.”
The win was no freebie, either. Chicago regrouped after falling behind 2-0 in the first four minutes, drew even by the first intermission and then staked a 3-2 lead. And even after surrendering a game-tying goal with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation time, the Blackhawks responded the right way and earned a victory thanks to Kurashev’s winning goal.
“The momentum is huge,” said rookie Connor Bedard, who collected his third goal of the season. “For us that’s big, just build off each line and you’ve got to hope that goals come and work for them. And we did that well.”
The win came at a cost for the Blackhawks, with defenseman Alex Vlasic leaving the game in the second period. Chicago summoned defenseman Isaak Phillips from the minors. Phillips, 22, has collected one goal and three points in five games with the AHL Rockford IceHogs this season.
The Coyotes return to action from the other side of the pendulum. Arizona is looking to respond after a disappointing 5-4 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.
The Coyotes stormed out of the gates and held a 4-1 lead before the nine-minute mark, but watched the Kings whittle it away with four unanswered goals, three of them in the third period, including the game-winner with 1:59 remaining in regulation.
“Obviously a tough blow here, being up 4-1 after 10 minutes and still losing the game,” defenseman J.J. Moser said. “We just have to stick together and find a way to close out these games better in the future.”
The lesson for the Coyotes is a harsh one, clubs as good as the Kings will respond, and they must be prepared to hold off the onslaught.
“It’s a tough one to swallow,” said coach Andre Tourigny, whose team has lost two straight games, both to the Kings. “You have a lead at home, and the way we’ve battled since the start of the season, we took a lot of pride in that when we’ve trailed, we’ve battled back hard. We were on our heels, and when we play that style of hockey and we don’t have the same pace and aggression in our game, we’re vulnerable.”
How the Coyotes respond is a test for the team that believes it has turned the corner in its rebuild.
“It’s not one game that defines who you are as a team, it’s how you bounce back from those games,” Tourigny said. “I think that will define who we are, more than the way we played.”
Arizona does expect forward Lawson Crouse back in the lineup after he missed the game due to illness, although defenseman Travis Dermott is questionable.