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Blackhawks-Coyotes Preview

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 3:48 AM

Associated Press

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Blackhawks-Coyotes Preview
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes

Patrick Lalime continues to make a case for more playing time with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Lalime could be back in net as he and the Blackhawks try for a fourth straight win on Saturday night when they continue their three-game road trip against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Lalime made 22 saves in Chicago's 2-1 shootout win at Colorado on Friday, the Blackhawks' third in a row after losing a season-high eight straight.

The nine-year veteran, who began the season as Nikolai Khabibulin's backup, is 7-5-1 with a 2.56 goals-against average, but has posted a 1.26 GAA while starting each game during the team's current run in place of the struggling Khabibulin.

"The difference has been our goaltending," said Chicago coach Denis Savard, who said during the week Lalime will continue to play if he continues to win.

That likely means another start Saturday - which would be Lalime's first in back-to-back nights this season. Khabibulin, meanwhile, has lost his last seven starts, including a 4-2 defeat at Phoenix on Jan. 3 in the teams' most recent meeting that evened the season series at a win apiece.

Lalime is 5-2-1 with a 1.95 GAA versus Phoenix, but hasn't started against the Coyotes since October 2005.

On Friday, Patrick Kane had a goal, and added one in the shootout before Robert Lang's game-winner. It was Kane's third goal in two games, giving him five points in his last three contests after being held scoreless in his previous four.

Kane has three assists this season versus Phoenix for Chicago, which has outscored its opponents 11-4 on its winning streak after scoring just 14 during its slide.

"We went through a little skid," Lang said. "The last three games people stepped up and filled the gaps for the guys that are missing."

Earlier on Friday, Chicago learned that Jason Williams will be out up to six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a sports hernia. He had seven goals and 12 assists in 20 games.

Phoenix (24-21-1), meanwhile, looks to bounce back from a disappointing 4-3 loss to Columbus on Thursday. The Blue Jackets' Rick Nash skated through the Coyotes defense for the game-winner with 21.5 seconds left in regulation for Phoenix, which has alternated wins and losses in its last six games.

"Points are too important and imperative at this point in time in the season," said Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky. "It was a really difficult loss to handle."

Rookies Martin Hanzal and Peter Mueller each had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes. Hanzal had one of each in the last meeting with Chicago, while Mueller had the lone goal in Phoenix's 6-1 loss at Chicago on Nov. 30.

Mikael Tellqvist made 28 saves Thursday for the Coyotes and stopped 25 shots against Chicago for the win earlier this month, but will likely sit Saturday as Ilya Bryzgalov is expected to return.

Bryzgalov, who is 15-10-1 with 2.41 GAA since Phoenix claimed him off waivers from Anaheim in November, is 4-1-1 with a 2.29 GAA versus the Blackhawks, but allowed five goals on seven shots before being pulled in the Coyotes' loss at Chicago nearly two months ago.

2007-2008 season series
DateScoreW. Goal
Feb 27 '08 PHX 0 at CHI 1 J. Williams
Jan 19 '08 CHI 2 at PHX 1 - SO P. Kane
Jan 03 '08 CHI 2 at PHX 4 R. Vrbata
Nov 30 '07 PHX 1 at CHI 6 J. Toews