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Overcoming Losses

If trying to forget their worst defeat in more than two years wasn't already tough enough, the Chicago Blackhawks also must overcome the loss of another top player due to injury.

Looking to avoid a third straight loss, the Blackhawks will be without rookie Jonathan Toews on Thursday when they visit the Phoenix Coyotes.

Oddsmakers from SBG Global have made Phoenix -126 money line favorites (NHL Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 5.5 goals (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 95% of bets for this game have been placed on Chicago +116 (View NHL Bet Percentages).

Chicago (19-16-3) has lost two in a row - both to Los Angeles - after winning a season-high four straight. The Blackhawks fell 9-2 at Los Angeles on Tuesday for their worst defeat since losing 9-1 to Dallas on Nov. 4, 2005.

"We have to forget about this one right away, but we also have to learn what we did wrong out there," defenseman Duncan Keith said after the Blackhawks allowed the Kings to score on five of their seven power-play chances.

Chicago had allowed just five goals in 68 short-handed situations on the road prior to Tuesday's loss.

Making matters worse, Toews, who has 15 goals and 17 assists, injured his left knee Tuesday and returned to Chicago for an MRI.

The Blackhawks, who conclude their trip Friday at Anaheim, are already awaiting the returns of forwards Martin Havlat and Jason Williams, who are both nursing groin injuries. Havlat has been out since Dec. 22 and Williams since Nov. 29.

Nikolai Khabibulin allowed four goals Tuesday and was pulled in his second straight loss. He's allowed seven goals in his last two contests after giving up a total of nine during the four-game winning streak.

Khabibulin, though, has won his last two starts versus Phoenix, including a 6-1 victory at home on Nov. 30 in the teams' most recent meeting. The veteran netminder, who spent his first five seasons with the Coyotes franchise from 1994-99 and ranks second in their history with 126 wins, is 7-2-1 with a 1.78 goals-against average in 10 career starts against his original NHL club.

Patrick Sharp scored for the sixth time in his last six contests Tuesday for Chicago, which beat the Coyotes 7-5 on March 10 in its last visit to Phoenix. He had two goals in that game.

Chicago defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who recorded his first career hat trick in the November meeting with the Coyotes, had an assist against the Kings.

Phoenix (19-18-1) won 5-2 at Colorado on Wednesday to sweep a home-and-home series with the Avalanche.

Steven Reinprecht had three goals and an assist against his former team, while Shane Doan added a goal with three assists for the Coyotes, who have nine goals in their last two games after totaling five during a three-game losing streak.

"It's nice to be able to contribute,'' said Reinprecht, who has four goals in his last two games. "Sometimes, you have to just put the puck on net.''

Doan has six assists in his last five games.

Ilya Bryzgalov made 24 saves Wednesday after making a career-high 42 on Monday in 4-3 shootout win over Colorado. He was pulled after allowing five goals in the last game with Chicago, though, and could give way Thursday to Mikael Tellqvist, who is 2-0-0 versus the Blackhawks.

"We're going to need Tellqvist to win some games,'' Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said. "I don't want to lose him. On the other side, Bryzgalov has been so good, I don't want to get him out of his flow, either.''

by: Staff Writers - Email Us

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