The Chicago Blackhawks played host to the Arizona Coyotes for the first and last time on Tuesday night, dominating the desert dwellers on their way to a 6-2 rout. Six different players scored for the hosts, including captain Jonathan Toews who notched his 250th career goal in the first period.
The Blackhawks got off to a fast start in this one. Richard Panik, playing alongside Toews and Andrew Ladd for the injured Marian Hossa, notched the opening tally just 5:16 in the period. It's just Panik's sixth goal of the season, but half of those have come in his last four appearances, as he builds a strong case for earning a regular spot in the lineup come playoffs. Toews would net a shorthanded tally later in the period to reach the 250 goal milestone for his career, and the 'Hawks took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
The Blackhawks kept the momentum going into the second period. They were able to control the play as the period opened, and Patrick Kane would find the back of the net just over eight minutes into the frame after a nice pass from Artemi Panarin. Later in the period, former Blackhawks Antoine Vermette took a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding after driving Artem Anisimov into the boards from behind. The Blackhawks would get two goals on the ensuing five minute power play, scored by Trevor van Riemsdyk and Andrew Ladd.
The third period started with the Hawks out in front by a score of 5-0. The Coyotes would get one back about four minutes into the third when Connor Murphy scored off an assist from former Blackhawk Jiri Sekac. Andrew Desjardins would put the lead back to five goals just 58 seconds later, and Brad Richardson would tally the Yotes' second goal to bring the game to its 6-2 final.
While the Coyotes are not one of the better teams in the League, this is a big win for the Blackhawks. Their offense showed up in a big way, their powerplay delivered twice, and the penalty kill was perfect yet again and even notched a goal of their own. With just two games remaining until the start of the playoffs, these are all very encouraging trends as the Hawks prepare to go on another Cup run.
The win puts the Blackhawks over the 100 point mark, joining the Stars and Blues as the only Western Conference teams to do so thus far. The Central Division crown is still within reach for the Blackhawks, but only if they can win out and both of the previously mentioned teams lose out. In that instance, all three teams would finish with 105 points, but the Blackhawks would win the Division due to having more Regulation and Overtime Wins, which is the first official tiebreaker.
The Hawks can take a step in that direction in their next game, as they'll welcome the Blues to the United Center for the final home game of the season this Thursday. Puck drop for that one is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Adam Hess is a staff writer at Second City Hockey. Follow him on Twitter at @_adamhess.