Marian Hossa was back on top of his game and the Blackhawks got back in control of theirs.Hossa had two goals, Scott Darling made 22 saves and the tight-checking Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.Artem Anisimov and Dennis Rasmussen also scored to help the Hawks maintain a three-point lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.The 37-year-old Hossa scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals in his 27th game – surpassing his total of 13 last season in 64 contests.
”I feel more recharged, and with the puck going in, you feel more confident,” Hossa said. ”But I try not to be just a goal scorer. I try to play both ways and even if I don’t score in a bunch of games, I try to make some plays for the team.”
And the Blackhawks turned in one of their better defensive and puck management efforts this season, according to coach Joel Quenneville.
”I like what we gave up tonight – not much,” Quenneville said. ”When we check well and don’t play much in our own end, we generally play well and we have the puck a lot more. Tonight was a good step.”
Darling made a handful of tough stops but wasn’t heavily tested in his first shutout this season and third of his career. He started his third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy in Philadelphia on Saturday.
”I can’t remember one extremely good Grade-A chance that we gave up,” Darling said. ”The guys were great, the D were great, the forwards were great on defense.It feels good, especially that one. It was a team shutout.”
Mike Smith blocked 23 shots as the Coyotes lost their fifth straight and completed a quick road trip, playing their second game in two nights. Arizona lost 4-1 on Monday night at Columbus with Louis Domingue in goal in the second contest of a home-and-home set with the Blue Jackets.
”Playing in back-to-back games, we did not have the energy we needed to get back into the game,” coach Dave Tippett said. ”We do not make enough plays to get anything done, whether it is defensively or offensively.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews sat out his seventh straight game with an upper-body injury. Quenneville said earlier on Tuesday he hopes Toews will rejoin the Blackhawks when they travel to New York next week to face the Rangers and Islanders.Brent Seabrook left with an injury with 6:38 left in the second period following a hit from Jordan Martinook that threw him awkwardly against the boards.
”We’ll see how is he is tomorrow,” Quenneville said.
Anisimov’s power-play tip-in from the edge of the crease with 4:23 left in the first period opened the scoring. He was set up by Patrick Kane’s pinpoint feed from the lower right corner and deflected the puck just under Smith’s pads.Barely a minute after Darling made a point-blank save on Tobias Rieder, Hossa and Rasmussen struck for goals 19 seconds apart early in the second to boost the lead to 3-0.
”It was the turning point of the game for sure,” Tippett said. ”As the game went on, our energy wasn’t there.”
Hossa flashed his skill to complete a 2-on-1 with Ryan Hartman at 6:26 that made it 2-0. Hossa controlled Hartman’s cross-ice pass with his right skate, kicked it to his stick and then stuffed a shot under Smith’s glove from the edge of the crease.Smith stopped Richard Panik from the doorstep moments later, but Panik jumped on the rebound behind the net and shoveled it in front to Rasmussen.Hossa completed the scoring by converting a breakaway with 3:16 left. He beat Smith with a wrist shot on the stick side after being sent in by Niklas Hjalmarsson’s pass.
NOTES—Referee Gord Dwyer left after the first period with an illness. … Crawford, expected to miss two to three weeks, has begun off-ice exercises. … Arizona entered having allowed a league-high 850 shots. … Trevor van Riemsdyk played in his second contest since being activated from IR last Friday and missing 20 games. He skated at Philadelphia on Saturday, but sat out Sunday against Winnipeg. … Michal Kempny and Michal Rozsival were healthy scratches, as were Arizona C Tyler Gaudet and D Kevin Connauton…..Blackhawks host the New York Rangers on Friday night.