Blackhawks’ wild-card window nearly closes with 1-0 loss to Coyotes

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The Blackhawks were tight defensively against the Coyotes, but this goal was the difference. | Ross D. Franklin/AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Blackhawks ambushed the Coyotes with seven goals when they met at the United Center two weeks ago. This game was nothing like that.

The Hawks’ once-powerhouse offense can’t get anything going lately and couldn’t break out of its slump in a 1-0 loss to the Coyotes on Tuesday. The loss leaves them five points out of the second wild card with six games left.

“We played so well — I think we deserved better,” goaltender Corey Crawford said. “They played pretty good, too.

“We’re still in it. Just got to get ready for the next game.”

They’ve barely been hanging in the wild-card race and still had an outside shot after salvaging an overtime win over the Avalanche on Sunday. With the Coyotes and Wild sputtering the last two weeks, there has been an opportunity to jump them, but it’s shrinking.

The Avalanche are clinging to the final playoff spot at 81 points, and the Coyotes hit 81 with the win, though they have played one more game. Those teams play each other Friday in Denver, so one of them is assured of getting two points and increasing their lead over the Hawks.

The Wild are next at 79, followed by the Hawks at 76. The Hawks have one game in hand over the Wild and Coyotes.

“That one hurts,” said coach Jeremy Colliton, who added that the Hawks will push as hard as possible for as long as they’re mathematically in the hunt. “We needed that one.”

His team, which was second in the NHL in goals from mid-December through mid-March, has scored 11 in its last six games despite averaging 33.3 shots on goal.

As has been the case for the Hawks’ last few games, this one had a tight, playoff-like feel to it. They fired off 31 shots, but few were prime looks. Neither team got many opportunities to race off on odd-man rushes.


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“I just think both teams didn’t want to give anything up,” Colliton said. “Puck was bouncing a lot, so it was not a lot of clean plays being made out there. But we were fine. They found a way to get a puck in the net.”

The Coyotes broke a scoreless tie five minutes into the third period on a power play after Brent Seabrook committed a tripping penalty. The Hawks held them off for a minute before Nick Cousins chipped in a rebound from just outside the crease.

Colliton tried to pull Crawford for an extra attacker with 2:25 remaining, but the Coyotes didn’t give him time. Then Duncan Keith got whistled for tripping while he tried to prevent a breakaway, and the Coyotes were on power play the rest of regulation.

Crawford continued his terrific run by stopping 27 of 28 shots. He has a .948 save percentage his last nine games.

Colliton finally got him to the bench with about a minute left, but there was no advantage gained with Keith still in the box. The Hawks’ best look at the end was a long shot by Jonathan Toews.

It was the second time in three games the Hawks did not get any scoring from their power trio of Toews, Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat. Kane has two goals in his last 14 games, Toews has four in 16 and DeBrincat has two in 12.

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