(WSCR) – The Blackhawks were a Cup favorite for most of last season. The Coyotes were the surprise team of the NHL. This year both teams started the season with expectations to continue where they left off.
Dominant play on home ice was a big key to the Chicago Blackhawks’ run to the Stanley Cup last season. They will likely need to start playing better at the United Center to have a chance to repeat as champions.
Chicago looks to end a three-game losing streak on home ice when it takes on the struggling Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night.
The Blackhawks (8-8-1) went 29-8-4 at the United Center last season – not including an 8-3-0 record in the playoffs – but that edge has been noticeably absent in 2010-11. They lost 2-1 to Edmonton on Sunday to fall to 4-6-0 at home, giving them a three-game skid in Chicago that consists of two defeats to the last-place Oilers and one to injury-depleted New Jersey.
The Blackhawks didn’t drop three in a row at home all of last season.
“Losing two games to these guys in our own building is not a good thing,” defenseman Brian Campbell said Sunday. “It’s unacceptable. We’ve got to get a little mad in the locker room and go out there and win some more battles.”
Chicago hasn’t had a four-game skid at home since Dec. 30, 2007-Jan. 11, 2008.
Fernando Pisani put the Blackhawks ahead Sunday, but the Oilers scored twice in a 14-second span during the third period as Chicago gave up the go-ahead goal in the third for the fifth time in its six home defeats.
“I think that’s our sore spot this year: The inability to close teams out and win at home,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I think that was one of our strengths the last couple of years. We’ve got to re-establish home-ice advantage.”
Marty Turco is likely to be back in net Wednesday after Corey Crawford made 24 saves Sunday in the Blackhawks’ second game in as many days. Turco has a 2.32 goals-against average and six shutouts in 41 games against Phoenix despite being just 18-14-2 with one tie in those matchups – all with Dallas.
Two of those shutouts came last season, on Feb. 6 and 13.
That could be bad news for the Coyotes (4-5-5) as they try to avoid a fourth straight loss. Phoenix did manage to pick up a point in each of its last two games, falling 3-2 in overtime to Detroit on Monday.
The Coyotes gave up Henrik Zetterberg’s game-winning goal early in overtime after Scottie Upshall’s slap shot hit the crossbar with 2:50 left in regulation. Phoenix suffered a third consecutive loss for the third time this season.
“I thought the last two games there’s definitely been really good signs for this team,” defenseman Ed Jovanovski said. “We just have to continue to work hard.”
The Coyotes fell to 0-5 in overtimes and shootouts despite 37 saves from Ilya Bryzgalov.
“That can’t happen. And it’s not like they’re making the great play to beat us,” coach Dave Tippett said. “We’re making the mistake to give them the game.”
The Coyotes have gone 1-5-0 in their last six at Chicago, totaling four goals in those games. Phoenix, though, won the 2009-10 season series 3-1-0.
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