Some stellar defensive play has helped the Phoenix Coyotes post their longest win streak of the campaign. The Chicago Blackhawks' poor performances in their own end are one reason why they're on the verge of matching their longest skid in five seasons.
The Coyotes will try to earn a fifth straight win and fourth in a row at home Saturday night by taking advantage of a matchup with the struggling Blackhawks, losers of seven straight.
Mike Smith allowed one goal for the third straight game Thursday and that paved the way for Phoenix to claim a 2-1 overtime win over visiting Calgary. Smith stopped 23 shots, and Shane Doan scored the game winner.
"This is how things will be and we need to find ways to get points,'" coach Dave Tippett said. "This game wasn't pretty, but we'll stick the two points in the bank and move forward."
The win streak has the Coyotes (26-21-8) in eighth place in the Western Conference, and they'll try to stay in playoff contention by knocking off a team that's falling down the standings.
Chicago (29-19-7) is currently in sixth but is 0-6-1 over its last seven for its longest skid since dropping eight straight Dec. 30, 2007-Jan. 11, 2008. Its nine consecutive road losses are the most since a franchise-worst, 19-game skid Nov. 10, 2003-Jan. 29, 2004.
The Blackhawks have been outscored 40-22 during that road losing streak and 32-15 in its last seven overall. They gave up three power-play goals in a 5-3 loss at San Jose on Friday and have allowed nine over the past 30 times they've been shorthanded.
Chicago also dropped to 0 for 13 with a man advantage on its nine-game road trip, the team's longest in 18 years.
"We just need to get out of this, and we just have to battle through it," forward Marian Hossa said. "The way this thing is happening isn't any fun right now. If we get an ugly win, we'll be able to get out of it."
The Blackhawks have four stops to go on their miserable trek and will try to turn their fortunes around with a third consecutive win in Phoenix. After Corey Crawford struggled yet again, they could turn to veteran Ray Emery to help them earn that victory.
While Crawford has given up 10 goals over his past two games, Emery hasn't been much better lately with 10 allowed over his last three appearances. He gave up four during a 5-2 loss in Colorado on Tuesday.
Emery made his only start against Phoenix at Jobing.com Arena on Nov. 21, 2009, and gave up two goals in a 3-1 defeat for Philadelphia. Smith, meanwhile, has won all three of his starts against the Blackhawks while registering a 1.30 goals-against average.
He was in net for a 4-1 win in Chicago on Nov. 29 and a 4-3 shootout victory there Dec. 5.
Jason LaBarbera started a 5-2 home loss Oct. 18. The Blackhawks outshot the Coyotes 27-9 over the first two periods of that win.
Chicago captain Jonathan Toews, who scored in that game, has five goals and two assists in his last five matchups with Phoenix but has two assists on the trip.
Coyotes veteran Ray Whitney has totaled two goals and nine assists in a seven-game point streak. He also has a team-best five points against Chicago this season (two goals, three assists).