GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Two months without a goal weighed heavily on Brad Richards, but when the veteran Chicago Blackhawks forward finally found the net, he also reached an impressive milestone.
Richards scored a tiebreaking power-play goal with 7:11 left in the third period to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.
Richards put in a rebound of Kris Versteeg’s blocked shot to give him 900 NHL points, ninth best among active players.
“I don’t think I’ve ever gone that long (without a goal). That’ll take a little weight off the shoulders, hopefully.” the 34-year-old Richards said. “Hard to believe. (The 900 points) means I’m getting older. It’s been a good run, and it was special to do it here with my dad watching.”
The Blackhawks had seven power plays and converted two, including Andrew Shaw’s first-period goal. Corey Crawford made 17 saves in the win, and Arizona’s Mike Smith stopped 43 shots.
“The best part of the night was the power-play success,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.
The Coyotes had a power play for the last 38.5 seconds of the game, and made it a 6-on-4 skating advantage after pulling Smith, but couldn’t force overtime. Tobias Rieder had given Arizona a 1-0 lead early in the first period.
The playoff-bound Blackhawks have earned at least one point in six of their last seven games. Arizona has lost 13 of 14.
The Coyotes, to the dismay of a huge crowd of vociferous Blackhawks fans, opened the scoring when Rieder scored from the right wing 4:53 in.
Rieder scored his 11th goal of the season, the most by a Coyotes rookie since Mikkel Boedker had 11 during the 2008-09 season.
That was one of just six first-period shots for the Coyotes.
The Blackhawks tied it on Shaw’s power play goal at 8:10. That ended a run of 11 straight penalty kills over three games for Arizona.
“We’re getting opportunities, they’re just not going in for us,” Shaw said. “It just shows that if you keep working hard and go in on net and charging toward the puck and getting those loose pucks back, it’s going to start going in for us.”
Chicago had gone five games without a power-play goal until Shaw scored. The Blackhawks got another power play at 11:12 of the first when Smith punched Versteeg, after Versteeg was knocked into Smith in the crease by Arizona’s Mark Arcobello.
Smith was given a penalty for roughing, and the Blackhawks came close to a goal twice during the advantage but were rebuffed.
The Blackhawks peppered Smith with shots in the second period, too, but couldn’t capitalize even with Smith out of the net around the 9-minute mark of the frame.
“When you traipse them out there on the power play seven times, you’re playing with fire,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “Mike allowed us to hang around the game.”
Crawford didn’t face as many shots, but made a number of impressive saves in his first game against the Coyotes this season. The teams split their previous two meetings.
NOTES: Former Coyotes center Antoine Vermette, who was with the team from 2011 until last month before being traded to Chicago, received a warm reception in his return to Arizona. … Coyotes D Oliver Ekman-Larsson was boarded in the last minute of play by Chicago’s Joakim Nordstrom, but wasn’t hurt seriously and could play Saturday, Tippett said. … Coyotes F Lauri Korpikoski returned after missing Monday’s game due to an upper-body injury. D Connor Murphy returned after sitting out on Monday because of illness. … A crowd of 17,534 was announced, the third Coyotes home sellout of the season. … NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski attended the game as he is in the area for the Sprint Cup race on Sunday near Phoenix.
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