CHICAGO (AP) — The handful of former Chicago Blackhawks who play for the Arizona Coyotes were excited to see Corey Crawford back on the ice after an extended absence.
Vinnie Hinostroza and company also enjoyed skipping town with a win.
Hinostroza scored twice against his former team, Antti Raanta made 33 saves and the Coyotes spoiled Crawford’s season debut, beating the sleepy Blackhawks 4-1 on Thursday night.
Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist and Lawson Crouse also scored as Arizona improved to 1-1 on a four-game road trip. The Coyotes entered with just four goals in their first five games.
“Today we got the scoring going,” Raanta said. “Obviously get new guys on the board, so it’s a big team effort.”
The game was tied when Hinostroza got a pass from Oliver Ekman-Larsson and beat Crawford with a high wrist shot from the right circle 8:37 into the second period. It was Hinostroza’s first goal since Chicago traded the speedy forward to Arizona in July so it could shed Marian Hossa’s contract.
Keller made it 3-1 when he intercepted a pass by Chris Kunitz and scored on a breakaway in the third, and Hinostroza added an empty-netter with 2:20 left.
“I think there were emotions until the first shift,” said Hinostroza, a Chicago native. “But once you get out there one time, it just turns into a regular game. Kind of forgot all the outside stuff and just played hockey.”
Crawford played his first game since Dec. 23, after missing most of last season because of a concussion. The two-time All-Star finished with 27 saves in a remarkably typical performance given his time away.
“I think I felt better in the second and third,” he said. “They really didn’t get that many opportunities early. They flipped one in for the first (shot), so it was good to feel one early. We were close all game.”
Erik Gustafsson scored Chicago’s only goal in its first game since Sunday. The Blackhawks opened a stretch of three games in four nights with their first regulation loss of the season.
“It was our first game where you could say, not good enough,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
The crowd of 21,210 cheered loudly when the 33-year-old Crawford was introduced with the starting lineup. He helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup in 2013 and 2015, and the Blackhawks tumbled into last place in the Central Division while he was out last season.
The Blackhawks also celebrated the return of Niklas Hjalmarsson for the first time since they traded the steady defenseman to Arizona in June 2017. He received a standing ovation after he was saluted with a highlight video during a break in the first period, and fought back tears as he raised his left arm to acknowledge the response from the crowd.
“It was a great moment,” Hjalmarsson said.
Hjalmarsson had three of Arizona’s 27 blocked shots, helping Raanta improve to 16-0-3 at the United Center. Raanta made his NHL debut with Chicago in 2013 and became good friends with Crawford while he was with the Blackhawks.
“When you see your friend coming back (after) such a long time and playing well already even though I think he didn’t feel perfect, but I think he was doing a great job,” Raanta said. “Just a matter of time when he gets the rhythm back.”
Arizona jumped in front when Crouse and Keller skated in for a 2-on-1 in the first period. Keller played it over to Crouse, who one-timed the pass by Crawford at 11:43 for his first point of the season.
The Blackhawks tied it in the second when Jonathan Toews set up Gustafsson for a one-timer 6:34 into the period. It was Gustafsson’s first goal of the season.
NOTES: Coyotes D Jordan Oesterle, who also came over the Hossa deal, had a team-high five blocks and got an assist on Crouse’s goal. … Toews has at least one point in Chicago’s first six games. … Rookie forward Luke Johnson was assigned to the minors to make room for Crawford, leaving three goaltenders on Chicago’s roster. “With three in four nights, we’ll see how that plays out,” coach Joel Quenneville said.
Coyotes: Visit the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.
Blackhawks: Visit the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.
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