Phoenix Coyotes @ Chicago Blackhawks Recap: Coyotes Keep Slim Playoff Hopes Alive with Shootout Win

This man is your unlikely hero of the night. - USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't a pretty victory, and Mike Smith had to stand on his head to keep the Coyotes in the game at times, but a David Schlemko shootout winner gave the Coyotes the 2 points they desperately needed to stay in the postseason hunt.

Not many people would've like the odds in a shootout that would feature Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Marian Hossa for the Chicago Blackhawks against Mikkel Boedker, Radim Vrbata, and David Schlemko for the Phoenix Coyotes. But with the season on the line, Coach Tippett was rewarded for his gutsy call when Schlemko beat Corey Crawford for the game winner after Hossa hit the cross bar on a rocket just moments earlier.

[Complete Coverage] - [Chicago Reaction]

[Event Summary] - [Play-by-Play] - [TOI Report] - [Faceoff Report]

To be honest, I missed a significant amount of this game, but from what I've seen in highlights and heard on the radio, the Phoenix Coyotes were fairly outplayed throughout much of the game, particularly the first 40 minutes. Mike Smith, back from a lower body injury, kept the Coyotes in this one through the first two periods, turning aside 26 of 28 shots he faced. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ice, Corey Crawford looked shaky, allowing a goal from beyond the red line on a hopper from Rostislav Klesla. Radim Vrbata was the Coyotes other goal scorer.

For the Hawks, Brent Seabrook lit the lamp twice on the power play to book end the two Coyotes goals, converting 2 feeds from Patrick Kane. There were some remarkable opportunities for Chicago in overtime, but Mike Smith literally stood on his head at one point to keep this game tied and headed to the shootout.

In the shootout, Smith stoned Toews to start the proceedings and then Boedker turned Crawford inside out before settling the puck on his forehand and flipping it into the net. Kane opened up Smitty's five hole on a move with uncharacteristic speed and Vrbata missed the net on a variation of his normal forehand-backhand move. Hossa had the most terrifying shootout chance taking a full on slapshot from 10 feet in front of Smitty but clanging it off the cross bar. Then David Schlemko pretty much photocopied Boedker's move and put the game winner into the top part of the netting surprising a packed United Center, the watching TV audience, and even Schlemko himself it seemed.

With the win, all eyes turned to Rogers Arena in Vancouver where the Red Wings and Canucks were knotted at 1 as a I wrote this, and Vancouver has just won the shootout, giving Detroit an ever important loser point.

Paw Prints

  • The Coyotes' max possible points remains at 54. Minnesota and Columbus are the only two teams that the Coyotes can possibly catch and they need to jump Dallas and Detroit en route.
  • Before the game, Keith Yandle honored 8-year old Boston Marathon bombing victim Martin Richard in a custom jersey as seen here.

Five For Winning

1. Give a Damn. This shouldn't be a problem for the Coyotes because I've never seen them quit in a game under Dave Tippett, but they will hopefully be looking to exact some revenge for the 12-6 combined beatings that Chicago laid on them earlier this year. The Coyotes got stronger as the game went on and even though they couldn't score after the first, they certainly played hard to the end.

2. Play Physical. Chicago shouldn't want to play too physical a game because they have little to gain from it, but with guys like Andrew Shaw, Daniel Carcillo, and Duncan Keith, it's not like they aren't going to be hitting a lot. The Coyotes need to match the physical play that the Hawks will bring. This did not seem to be an issue as hits were laid pretty well.

3. Stick to the System. The last thing the Coyotes can afford against Chicago is to try and run-and-gun with the Hawks. This has been one of the biggest problems from the teams' first two match-ups and getting away from the defensive system that makes the Coyotes click will lead to similar results. Hard to judge by what I saw, but it definitely wasn't a run-and-gun, and the Coyotes forecheck was strong when it needed to be.

4. Win the Special Teams Battle. The best unit between the teams is Chicago's penalty kill which combines solid kill numbers with 5 shorthanded goals. Although discipline has been a key for the Coyotes, the Hawks powerplay, despite all the talent, is a miserable 21st in the league (still better than the 'Yotes). Nope - 2 power play goals allowed and nothing doing for the Coyotes man advantage.

5. Let Toews Score a Few. Ok, this is selfish because he's on my fantasy team and I need the playoff help...but if the Hawks are gonna score goals, let's have it be Captain Serious, eh? Nope, Toews was held scoreless.

Our Three Stars

1. David Schlemko - because, what?

2. David Schlemko - see above

3. David Schlemko - still in shock.

3a. Mike Smith - he was pretty awesome.

Comment of the Night

Schlemko!

We won a skills competition!!

The Closer, Part 2?

-HowlofRevel [he's automatic! - sorry Beta, I laughed out loud at this one]

Official Game Highlights

Looking Ahead

The Coyotes close out their road trip with a Monday night tilt at Joe Louis Arena in a must-win head-to-head match-up with one of the teams they are fighting with for a playoff spot, the Detroit Red Wings. The Wings sit 2 points ahead of the Coyotes, but hold the ROW tiebreaker (18-15). Columbus has played one more game, but has one more point than the Wings who are at risk of seeing their first non-playoff season since 1989-90.

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