Blackhawks, Coyotes desperately seeking a win
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Chicago Blackhawks are running out of time to make the playoffs. The Arizona Coyotes are running out of games to make something out of their lost season.
Two Western Conference teams experiencing terrible Februarys meet for the third time this season on Monday night at Gila River Arena, and each must be asking: Will this be the night it turns around?
The Blackhawks are three-time Stanley Cup champions since 2010, with the latest title coming only three years ago, but they've fallen into last place in the Central Division by losing their last five games and nine of their last 11.
They're still in the hunt for the playoffs with a 24-23-8 record, but each passing loss is making it more difficult in a competitive conference.
"It's an environment that we're not accustomed to and we're trying to remain positive," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after a 3-0 loss at Minnesota on Saturday night in which Chicago took 44 shots and missed on every one.
"That's where we're at, and I think that's what we're dealing with."
General manager Stan Bowman isn't promising big changes, telling the Chicago Sun-Times that he has no plans to break up the Blackhawks' Big Four of defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane despite the team's recent struggles.
Kane leads the Blackhawks with 21 goals and 53 points, but no one else on the team has reached 40 points. Keith doesn't have a goal all season, and Seabrook has only three.
"It's frustrating," Toews said. "(But) it's simple. we know what we've got to do. It's right there in front of us. ... We know we've got a lot of talent and a lot of ability here. We've got to get back to playing simple hockey. At the end of the day, we're still hanging on to that belief in the room (that they can make the playoffs). We need to keep working and not try to do too much."
Maybe the Blackhawks should get back to playing the way they did when they beat the Coyotes 4-2 on the road Oct. 21 and again 3-1 in Chicago on Dec. 10, both times with the currently injured Corey Crawford in goal.
But scoring is an issue, both even strength and on the power play, for a team that has lost all five games it has played this month.
Chicago's power play ranks 29th in the league at 15.4 percent, and that's affecting the team's overall scoring. The Blackhawks have been held to two goals or fewer in 10 of their last 13 games.
Scoring is a season-long issue, too, for the Coyotes, who are 30th in scoring, 30th in goals against and 31st in the overall NHL standings with a 13-32-10 record -- or 42 losses in 55 games.
The most recent loss was one of the most difficult all season, 4-3 to Philadelphia on Saturday night in a shootout that went to seven rounds before being decided on Nolan Patrick's goal.
The Coyotes lost even though Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth came in cold off the bench to face five shots in overtime -- he stopped them all -- after starting goalie Brian Elliott left with a lower-body injury.
Arizona is 1-5 in shootouts this season and has won only one of five games this month.
"(We're) tired of losing," Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta said. "Doesn't matter if it's overtime, shootout or 60 minutes. It kind of grinds you."
The Coyotes, last in the NHL with only six home-ice victories (6-16-4), are playing the second game in a stretch of nine of 10 at home.
Updated February 11, 2018