Usually the Chicago Blackhawks look forward to returning to the United Center following the conclusion of their "Circus Trip," but tonight's return wasn't remotely positive as the Blackhawks got crushed 4-1 at home against the Phoenix Coyotes. It wasn't really a close game, as the Coyotes built a 4-0 lead over the course of the game's first 59 minutes and didn't give up a goal until Andrew Sharp's last-minute goal to trim the lead.
It was a tough game for Chicago, who actually got more shots on goal than Phoenix but simply couldn't capitalize like the Coyotes. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was pulled from the game in favor of back-up Ray Emery after the starter gave up four goals on 21 shots, but at that point the damage had already been done. Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney scored the goals for Phoenix in the game's final period.
Phoenix's Mike Smith was far more successful than Crawford on Tuesday night, saving 24 of the 25 shots that came his way, including every single shot in the game's first 59 minutes. Patrick Sharp scored his 11th goal of the year for Chicago to end the game on a high note, but the Blackhawks have to be disappointed with their performance.
Chicago moves to 14-8-3 on the year, holding onto first place in the Central division by a single point over St. Louis. Phoenix is now 13-7-3 and tied for first place in the Pacific division with Dallas.
Stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago for more information, and for in-depth analysis on the Chicago Blackhawks be sure to visit Second City Hockey. For more Coyotes hockey news and information, be sure to read Five For Howling.