Pro hockey

Smith, Coyotes shut down Blackhawks

2014-02-07T19:00:00Z 2014-02-08T02:22:07Z Smith, Coyotes shut down BlackhawksJohn Marshall AP Sports Writer
February 07, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

GLENDALE, Ariz. | The night started with a raucous celebration of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team. Alice Cooper kept it going with three of his hit songs.

In between, the Phoenix Coyotes played one of their best games of the season.

Mike Smith stopped 30 shots and the Coyotes capped off an entertaining night by becoming the first team to shut out the Blackhawks this season with a 2-0 victory Friday night.

"I think everyone felt American tonight," said Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle, who had a goal and an assist.

Coming off a disappointing loss to Dallas, the Coyotes charged at the Blackhawks following a pregame ceremony honoring the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team.

Yandle, left off the U.S. Olympic team, seemed particularly amped by the ceremony and scored on the first shot he let fly 69 seconds into the game.

Another player left off an Olympic roster, Radim Vrbata of the Czech Republic, added to it late in the second period, scoring Phoenix's second power-play goal with an assist by Yandle.

Cooper kept the electric atmosphere going with a three-song set and Smith, who's headed to Sochi with the Canadian Olympic team, made it stand with his second shutout of the season and the 26th of his career.

Antoine Vermette also had an assist to extend his career-high point streak for the Coyotes in front of a rowdy, sold-out crowd.

"Even though I'm Czech, I can appreciate the atmosphere," Vrbata said.

Chicago had impressive victories in sweeping the two Southern California teams this week.

The Blackhawks couldn't keep it going against the Coyotes, struggling offensively without leading scorer Patrick Kane, who left the team to attend his grandfather's funeral.

Chicago allowed two power-play goals after killing off 32 of 33 penalties the previous 10 games and was shut out for the first time since Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals against Boston last June.

"It wasn't our best effort," captain Jonathan Toews said after the Blackhawks were blanked for the first time in 127 regular-season games.

The Coyotes have been agonizingly inconsistent, playing well against good teams and struggling against teams further down the standings.

Phoenix beat rival Los Angeles 3-0 in one of its best games of the season and followed that with a loss to Buffalo, which has the league's worst record. The Coyotes bounced back to beat Pittsburgh, then lost on Tuesday to Dallas, a team they are jostling with for a playoff spot.

They got off to a fast start against the Blackhawks, who came to the desert with 84 points, second-most in the NHL.

Yandle triggered it.

He was fired up by the 1980 U.S. Olympic team's appearance, fist-bumping every player as they went by the bench. Yandle used that energy to score a power-play goal 1:09 into the game on a hard slap shot from near the blue line.

"We wanted to get off to a good start and we got off to a good start," Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said.

After one shot in the opening 14 minutes, the Blackhawks turned up the pressure late in the first period and early in the second.

Smith stood his ground during Chicago's flurries and had stellar sequence late in the second period, when he slid over to stop a redirected shot by Toews, then stopped a point-blank shot by Patrick Sharp, who stood in disbelief for a few seconds before looking back at the Coyotes' goalie.

A few minutes later, Smith ended up on his backside in the net with his mask lying in front of him after being run over by Brandon Saad. Defenseman Michal Rozsival was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play to give Phoenix a 5-on-3 and Vrbata capitalized quickly, beating Corey Crawford with a wrister from the slot.

Cooper kept the vibe going during the second intermission with "I'm 18," ''No More Mr. Nice Guy" and "School's Out," and Smith made the shutout stand with some tough stops, including a nifty glove save on Saad after Chicago pulled Crawford for an extra attacker.

"Disappointing game," Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. "We battled back and they made some saves on us the latter part of the game, but we can't start like that. It put us in a hole right off the bat."

NOTES: Ten members of the Miracle on Ice team were present for the pregame ceremony, and current Olympians on the Coyotes and Blackhawks also were recognized. ... Coyotes C Martin Hanzal missed the game due to an illness. ... Chicago D Johnny Oduya missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Vermette has eight goals and four assists during his point streak.

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