CHICAGO, IL - APRIL 17: A referee separates Corey Crawford #50 of the Chicago Blackhawks and Mike Smith #41 of the Phoenix Coyotes as they exchange words following the second period in Game Three of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on April 17, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/ Getty Images)
Before we get started there is something that needs to be said. During the first period Raffi Torres delivered a big a big hit on Marian Hossa, he appeared to leave his feet to deliver the hit which resulted in him hitting Hossa's head. Hossa had to be carried off the ice in the stretcher and taken to the hospital, we later found out that Hossa was able to leave the hospital on his on power, we are all incredibly sorry that Hossa had to go to the hospital and we are all extremely happy that he is okay. Its pretty likely that Torres will receive supplemental discipline from the league for the hit.
It wasn't the prettiest win but the Phoenix Coyotes beat the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center in overtime. The Coyotes managed to find a win despite a depleted lineup Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski both sat out during the game, having been injured during Game 2 in Phoenix. With this win the Coyotes are now 2-1 in the series with 2 more games to be played at Jobing.com Arena. The Coyotes had to dig deep to get this victory, Chicago scored late in the first after an icing call on the Coyotes and they seemed to be unable to regain their momentum until the third period. Tensions arose after the second period when there was a brief scuffle between the two teams, and it even got to the point where Corey Crawford started talking with Mike Smith. This ended up with Jonathan Toews getting a rough penalty though, although with the way the Coyotes power play was going during the game he probably didn't mind.
The Coyotes have been having some problems lately, and a few of these problems continued into this game. They let in a late goal in the first, allowed the Blackhawks to score first, and they were unable to finish the game in regulation. They were also unable to convert on the power play advantages they had, Chicago had 5 penalties the game, however they were able to score on a 4 on 4 after Shane Doan and Niklas Hjalmarsson both received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. That lead to a rather crazy exchange, Rostislav Klesla scored first tying the game, but the next shift Michael Frolik scored giving the Hawks the lead again, only to have The Wizard retie the game 32 seconds after that tying the game again. The Coyotes were able to keep the Blackhawks at bay during the overtime until Taylor Pyatt set up Mikkel Boedker who got the game winning goal somehow past Corey Crawford.
Chicago played a great game, they were able to take the lead again with a Andrew Brunette goal and they were able to regain the lead after Rusty Klesla tied the game in the third during a four on four. The Blackhawks appeared to start the game off kinda slow but after the Torres hit they kept the Coyotes under control, limiting them to 6 shots in the second, and seeming to keep the Coyotes from generating any good chances during the overtime only allowing them 2 shots on goal. Crawford played a very solid game too, he has been pretty unsung during this series, but he is keeping the Hawks in this series.
Our 3 Stars
1. Mikkel Boedker. Old Crazy Legs came through in a big way with the overtime, he also had a few good looks during the game including a great breakaway.
2. Rusty Klesla. Klesla was directly responsible for tying the game the first time and assisted in tying it the second time. He really stepped up this game.
3. Ray Whitney. The Wizard finally got on the board with a goal, he had been kinda quiet the first two games but this game he had the most shots on goal and managed to get the goal that took the game to overtime.
Five For Winning
1. Control the Building. The Coyotes are 4-1-1 at the United Center over the past 3 seasons, including a 2-0 record this year. They play well on the road and should be ready to play from the puck drop. I would say they feed off the energy of the building and used it to help get the win.
2. Stop the Slow Starts. Both games, the Coyotes have allowed Chicago to get a lead within the opening five minutes of the game. The Coyotes have excelled when they score first all season, time to get back to that winning formula. The Coyotes were pretty strong in the start, but to be honest the Torres hit seemed to take away their momentum for the rest of the first and the second.
3. Mike Smith, Martin Hanzal, Lauri Korpikoski and Radim Vrbata. I'm not sure that any of them are 100% or that all of them will even be taking the ice tonight, but they are heart and soul players for this team. Hopefully, they all play and make big impacts in this game. Smith was great, only allowing 2 goals on 37 shots. Radim Vrbata is still trying to find his shot in the playoffs, he only had 1 SOG, although his puck possession was pretty good. Hanzal and Korpikoski did not play.
4. Keep the Special Teams Special. Coyotes were 2 for 4 on the power play in game 2 and have killed off 6 of 7 penalties thus far. Those are not record setting numbers, but it has been good enough to put the team in a position to win. The first power play was great although they couldn't capitalize, and the four on four team and the penalty kill were great, however the Yotes need to get better and more consistent on the power play.
5. Close it Out. Losing a lead 2 times in a row with less than 15 seconds on the clock is inexcusable. Ice it, flop on it, whatever...just don't let the Hawks put a puck on net with under a minute to go if you have a one goal lead. They couldn't close out the first period but they definitely closed out the game.
Comment of the Night
With this win the Coyotes home ice advantage comes back into play, the Yotes only need 2 more victories and they will be playing twice at Jobing.com Arena. It should also be noted that the Coyotes played great on the road during the regular season, and they won both the away games against Chicago, so winning on Thursday isn't out of the question.