Blackhawks beat Phoenix in punch bowl

Caption
(AP)
The Blackhawks' Bryan Bickell (29) celebrates goal by teammate Viktor Stalberg as Phoenix Coyotes' Mike Smith (41) and Michael Stone (29) look on during the first period Thursday in Glendale, Ariz.

BY CHRIS KUC

Chicago Tribune

GLENDALE, Ariz. – Jamal Mayers punched Raffi Torres in the face, and then Patrick Kane punched the rest of the Coyotes in the gut.

It didn’t take long for the Blackhawks to get their reprisal on Torres and not much longer to get the last laugh, too, as they drilled the Coyotes 6-2 on Thursday night at Jobing.com Arena.

In Torres’ first appearance against the Hawks since his 21-game suspension for an illegal hit that seriously injured Marian Hossa during the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs ended, Mayers confronted the Coyotes veteran just 2 minutes, 35 seconds into the game.

Hossa watched from the bench as the two dropped the gloves and threw flurries of punches during the spirited bout.

With that out of the way, it was time for Kane and Co. to get to work.

Kane had two goals and an assist – all in the first period – Jonathan Toews, Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg each had a goal and an assist and Dave Bolland also scored as the Hawks remained unbeaten in regulation to improve to 9-0-2.

Patrick Sharp added three assists, and Ray Emery earned the victory in goal to help the Hawks move to 3-0-2 on their season-long, six-game trip.

Martin Hanzal scored for the Coyotes and Mike Smith, who was yanked in the second period, suffered the loss in goal.

The Hawks reeled off four consecutive goals in the first period as Stalberg started things off with a one-timer past Smith after a fine pass from Andrew Shaw. Kane scored the first of his goals with the Hawks holding a five-on-three advantage. Toews located the puck during a goal-mouth scramble and poked it to Kane.

Kane then worked more magic, spinning deep in Coyotes zone and hitting Bolland with a pass the center knocked in. Another five-on-three advantage resulted in another Kane goal as Sharp’s cross-ice pass found the winger, who then buried it.

Hanzal momentarily stopped the bleeding for the Coyotes with a power-play goal, but Toews made a highlight-reel move, dancing right around defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and besting Smith. But Bickell then scored from the slot for a 6-1 lead after two periods.

Torres scored a meaningless goal with 1:25 left in the third.

Mayers’ fight with Torres quickly answered the question of how the Hawks would respond – if at all – to the Hossa matter. With a 48-game season, taking penalties or risking suspension or injury could prove costly.

“It’s such a competitive league, not only with the parity but the shortened season makes it even that much more of an issue,” Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith said before the game. “Points are at premium and you don’t want to do anything (that might) put even one point in jeopardy.”

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