Vejmelka, Coyotes beat Blackhawks 4-1 after Kane trade
TEMPE, Ariz. - The Chicago Blackhawks knew star forward Patrick Kane was going to be traded, yet the reality of it hit hard. A letdown a few hours after the deal was almost inevitable.
The Arizona Coyotes took advantage.
Nick Schmaltz had a goal and an assist, Karel Vejmelka stopped 23 shots and the Coyotes beat the Kane-less Blackhawks 4-1 on Feb. 28.
"It’s been a hard couple of days," Chicago defenseman Connor Murphy said. "I won’t lie. It affects guys a little emotionally and psychologically this time of year."
The Blackhawks came out flat in the second game of a back-to-back after Kane was traded to the New York Rangers in a three-way deal that included Arizona.
After an uneven first five minutes, the Coyotes started swarming the Blackhawks, generating numerous good chances that led to first-period goals by Travis Boyd and Barrett Hayton. Jack McBain scored in the second to shake Arizona out of a lull and Vejmelka was sharp after allowing six goals in a loss to Calgary his last start.
Andreas Athanasiou scored late in the third period and Alex Stalock allowed four goals on 33 shots for Chicago.
"We made good plays offensively, but somewhere in the second period we started forcing a little bit," Coyotes coach Andre Tourigny said. "But I thought the guys regrouped really well."
The Coyotes had turned into a defensive sieve since a nine-game point streak, allowing six goals each in a pair of losses.
Arizona went on the offensive early against Chicago. Boyd scored midway through the first period, beating Stalock on a shot from the right circle that knuckled off Chicago defenseman Ian Mitchell’s stick.
"I just kind of got a little lucky with a nice bounce, but it was hard work and it paid off," Boyd said.
Hayton scored late in the first on a high redirect of Schmaltz’s shot that trickled through Stalock’s skates.
The Blackhawks picked up the pressure in the second but Vejmelka was sharp, making tough saves on a series of Chicago rushes.
McBain made it 3-0 late in the period when his one-timer from the slot popped straight up, bounced several times and trickled into the net.
Schmaltz scored midway through the third, one-timing a pass from Clayton Keller, who circled around the back of the net to the right circle. Schmaltz has seven goals and six assists in his past nine games.
"Our execution wasn’t there," Chicago center Philipp Kurashev said. "We didn’t play with a lot of emotion and our compete wasn’t there as well."
McBain and Blackhawks defenseman Jarred Tinordi had a lengthy fight in the first period after McBain checked Mitchell hard behind the net.
Tinordi went after McBain immediately after the hit and they dropped their gloves quickly, each landing heavy blows. Tinordi was called for a roughing penalty in addition to the fighting penalties for both.
The brawl seemed to spark the Coyotes, who scored both their first-period goals after the punches were thrown.
"Bainer did a really good job there," Tourigny said. "I think it was a momentum swing for us."
NOTES: Arizona D Jakob Chychrun and Nick Bjugstad were healthy scratches for trade-related reasons. F Laurent Dauphin was recalled from Arizona’s AHL affiliate in Tucson. ... D Vili Saarijarvi, part of the Kane trade, was not with the Blackhawks for Tuesday’s game. ... Arizona’s seven-game home point streak (5-0-2) against Chicago is its longest against an NHL opponent since a 6-0-1 run against Washington from 2008–17.
Blackhawks: Host Dallas on Thursday.
Coyotes: Play at Dallas on Wednesday.
AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
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