Vrbata, Lapointe lead Hawks to win

The Associated Press

Radim Vrbata and Martin Lapointe scored 1:24 apart in the second period to help the Blackhawks beat Phoenix 3-1 on Tuesday night, a game Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet missed because of a gambling investigation.

New Jersey police authorities said Tuesday that Tocchet financed a nationwide sports gambling ring that took bets — but not on hockey — from Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky's wife and about a half-dozen NHL players.

At the request of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, Tocchet did not attend the game. In a statement, the Coyotes said Tocchet "was flying back East this evening to address the allegations in a meeting with Bettman."

Tocchet was served with a criminal complaint Monday and was expected to travel to New Jersey to answer charges of promoting gambling, money laundering and conspiracy. After the Coyotes took a 1-0 lead on Geoff Sanderson's goal midway through the first period, the Blackhawks scored the final three goals.

Vrbata drove a shot from the right point that Phoenix defenseman Keith Ballard deflected behind Curtis Joseph at 21 seconds of the second period.

Phoenix defenseman Sean O'Donnell then gave away the puck to set by Lapointe's goal at 1:45, Hawks defenseman Brent Seabrook intercepted O'Donnell's pass at the right faceoff circle and fired a perfect pass to Lapointe at the left of the goal crease.

The Blackhawks added an insurance goal when Mark Bell fired a shot from the right point that found its way behind Joseph at 10:55 of the third period.

Craig Anderson made 23 saves for the Hawks.

"So much of this game is mental," Anderson said. "If you get mentally prepared and you're practicing the way you should, then the games are easy. It's just a mind-set."

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