Blackhawks steamroll Coyotes, often
The Blackhawks were all business Tuesday night at the United Center.
Knowing they needed to beat Arizona to retain a glimmer of hope of gaining home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, the Hawks came out and steamrollered the Coyotes 6-2. Richard Panik, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Andrew Ladd, who scored twice, gave the Hawks a 5-0 lead in less than 35 minutes.
Two of those goals came during a five-minute major handed out to Antoine Vermette for boarding Artem Anisimov. After lying on the ice for about a minute, Anisimov was taken to the locker room and did not return.
Coach Joel Quenneville said Anisimov suffered an upper-body injury and is day to day. The Hawks' center seemed in good spirits in the hallway afterward, however, talking with Artemi Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov.
In addition to the major, Vermette was given a game misconduct.
"Obviously I don't mean to hurt anyone," said Vermette, who helped the Hawks win the Cup last year and received a big ovation from the crowd in the first period. "From what I understand, I look over there (in the hallway) and he seems fine, which is good news.
"I thought he was going to keep going on the weak side. He made that fake and at that point I tried to catch him at the last second, but the move was already initiated.
"I feel bad. I hope he's OK. But he seems to be OK."
Vermette was surprised at the calls but said the refs "saw it a certain way and I've got to deal with it."
Said Toews: "I don't think there was any intentábehind it, knowing him as a guy. (He) was just coming in with a lot of speed and got a little out of control. Hoping all the best for Arty there."
Panarin had a pair of assists, and set a Hawks rookie record for points in a season at 74, which is 2 better than Kane's 72 in 2007-08.
Toews' goal was the 250th of his career. He is the 10th player to do that as a Blackhawk, and first since Tony Amonte in 2001. With Arizona on the power play, Toews stole a pass at the blue line, raced down ice on a breakaway and beat Louis Domingue with a slick back-and-forth move right in front of the net to give the Hawks a 2-0 lead 12:40 into the first period.
It was Toews' career-high fourth short-handed goal on the season.
The Hawks (47-26-7) are 4 points behind St. Louis, with the two teams squaring off Thursday at the United Center. If the Hawks beat the Blues and Blue Jackets on Saturday, and the Blues lose their finale vs. Washington, the Hawks will move into at least second place in the Central Division.
The Hawks have 17 goals during their current three-game winning streak, and are 6-for-11 on the power play after snapping an 0-for-26 drought. The Hawks also have killed off all 17 of their opponents' power plays since Marcus Kruger returned March 26.
"Special teams was huge tonight," Kane said, "and that's obviously big, giving us confidence going into the playoffs."
Andrew Shaw and Marian Hossa did not play in Tuesday's victory over Arizona. Richard Panik, a healthy scratch three of the last four games, took Hossa's spot on the top line.
"We're looking at some things," coach Joel Quenneville said before the game. "It gives him an opportunity to see what he does up there."
Panik sure took advantage, scoring from in front of the net off a feed from Toews 5:16 into the first period. It was Panik's third goal in his last five games.
It looks like Shaw will miss the final two games with an upper-body injury he suffered in Winnipeg.