Blackhawks visit Coyotes as both cling to playoff hopes

The Chicago Blackhawks and Arizona Coyotes can't be counted out of the Western Conference playoff race just yet.

The teams, who will meet Tuesday night in Glendale, Ariz., are both within five points of the conference's second and final wild-card berth. But their recent form isn't inspiring a lot of confidence.

The Coyotes (36-33-7, 79 points) are two points back of the Colorado Avalanche with six games remaining in the regular season. They return home having lost five in a row, including an 0-3-1 road trip.

The Blackhawks (33-32-10, 76 points) are five back with seven games left. They snapped a three-game losing streak with a 2-1 overtime victory against Colorado on Sunday.

"It's the biggest game of the year. Every game you could say, probably, biggest game of the year from here on out," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who scored the winner against the Avalanche, told NHL.com. "We've been saying that for a while, and that showed, I think, in our desperation, our management with the puck and guys competing."

Teammate Artem Anisimov scored a power-play goal early in the third period to tie the score Sunday.

"It feels good. We got our two points and we just need to get ready for the next one," Anisimov told NHL.com. "One game at a time ... We played as a team today, four lines going. Everybody played the right way."

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton called the victory a relief.

"We're in a spot where we're desperate. You can respond in different ways to that, and I really liked how we responded (Sunday)," he said. "We found a different level, a lot of pressure on the puck, forced them to play D-zone. We defended really well."

Colliton juggled his line combinations, putting a slumping Alex DeBrincat with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the top line. They combined for 15 shots but no points.

The Coyotes, who haven't made the playoffs since the 2011-12 season, are coming off a 2-0 loss Sunday against the host New York Islanders.

Arizona outshot New York 31-26, but the Islanders posted their league-leading 10th shutout of the season.

"This hurts," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "That was a tough one. We played hard. I thought we played a good game today, we're just having a tough time scoring right now. ... I think we pressed a few times."

The Coyotes scored just four goals on their four-game trip, which included games at Tampa Bay, Florida and New Jersey.

"I thought we played our hearts out in this game," Coyotes defenseman Jason Demers told NHL.com. "We battled. Obviously back-to-back (games) on the road is always tough, but I thought we weathered the storm in the first, and I thought in the second and the third we kind of took over the game.

"Their goalie made some big saves ... but our guys didn't quit until the end. That's what we've got to take from that game. We've just got to dust ourselves off and get back at it."

--Field Level Media
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