When a team is having trouble scoring goals, the solution is a simple one, Blackhawks coach Brian Sutter says.
"Pucks have to go to the net. There is no other way," Sutter was saying at the Hawks' Thursday morning skate. "When pucks aren't going in, put it on the net. It'll hit someone in the butt, it'll go in."
Hawks rookie center Tyler Arnason doesn't need to be told twice to shoot the puck. Arnason leads the Hawks with 68 shots on goal this season, and he jump-started a dormant offense in Thursday night's 4-2 victory over the Coyotes.
Arnason's shot on Phoenix goalie Brian Boucher led to the rebound that Sergei Berezin took around the net and stuffed past a fallen Boucher at the 2-minute-5-second mark of the first period. The Hawks' first goal since 6:10 of the first period Saturday in Calgary--a span of 115:55--gave them a 1-0 lead.
And when a team is struggling to score, one goal can open the floodgates. That was the case Thursday.
Nathan Dempsey, speeding down left wing after sitting out a slashing penalty, redirected a perfect pass from Steve Thomas four minutes later to make it 2-0.
"Our top offensive guys have to grab the reins," Sutter had said. "They can't be fine-tuning things or trying to make plays that aren't there."
The top offensive guys made it 3-0 at 7:52 of the first when Steve Sullivan forced a turnover behind the Phoenix goal. Alex Zhamnov picked up the loose puck and found Eric Daze alone left of the crease for his second of the season.
"We just have to bear down on our chances, plain and simple," Sutter said. "We're getting enough opportunities."
After Shane Doan beat Hawks goalie Jocelyn Thibault to make it 3-1 at 14:11 of the first, the Zhamnov line struck again 21 seconds later.
With a defender on his back, Daze threw a weak backhander on goal. Boucher gave up a rebound to Sullivan, who couldn't convert, but Zhamnov did for a 4-1 Hawks lead.
The four goals--on nine shots--in the first 20 minutes were the most the Hawks have scored in a single period this season and nearly matched the five goals in four games they had on the trip before Thursday.
Doan scored his second goal of the night with 6:11 gone in the third period on a wrist shot past Thibault and into the upper-left-hand corner of the net to cut the Hawks lead to 4-2.
The power-play goal was assisted by Deron Quint and former Hawk Tony Amonte.
Sutter made a couple of adjustments to his line combinations. He moved Berezin onto a line with Arnason and Kyle Calder. Berezin also went back to left wing, where he said he's more comfortable.
Peter White, just up from the American League with Andrei Nikolishin out with a knee injury, centered a line with Chris Simon and Steve Thomas.
"It gives Whitey an opportunity," Sutter said. "He was good killing penalties for us last year and he'll get more of an opportunity to play more of an offensive role."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun