By Brad Gardner
Another tightly contested game between Phoenix and Chicago saw the visiting Coyotes take the series advantage. The visiting Coyotes escaped with a 3-2 overtime win on Tuesday night. Mikkel Boedker was the ovetime hero for Phoenix on a sharp-angle goal at the 13:15 mark of the extra session.
The first period was marred by a late hit from Raffi Torres on Marian Hossa right in front of the ‘Hawks bench. Early signs were not good, as Hossa dropped to the ice, slamming the back of his head, and Blackhawks medical staff jumped over the boards before the puck was even blown dead. Little time was wasted before the stretcher was brought out and Hossa wheeled to an ambulance, at which point he was communicating but had still not yet regained movement. Fortunately, he was able to return home, under further monitoring, with what is being called a broken jaw.
No penalty was called on the hit, which was replayed on the monitor at the UC only once, and Chicago actually wound up shorthanded due to a roughing call against Brandon Bollig when he went after Torres in the hit’s aftermath. Bollig received a game misconduct as well for standing up for his teammate. Chicago killed off the penalty but the Coyotes continued to pick up chances. Corey Crawford was strong in the first period especially, soaking up most shots and contributing to a pair of penalty kills.
The no-call on Torres and an apparent tripping penalty that also went uncalled gave the home crowd little to cheer for, so they offered a standing ovation when the referees called an icing penalty against the Coyotes late in the period.
Marcus Kruger won the ensuing faceoff, which eventually landed on the stick of Patrick Kane above the circle. He sent a wrist shot towards the net that was redirected in front by Andrew Brunette, beating Mike Smith to give the ‘Hawks the 1-0 lead with only 29 seconds left in the opening frame.
The action slowed down considerably in the second due to the combination of the Blackhawks tightening up defensively and playing roughly five minutes on the power play. While they allowed only six shots on goal in the second, they were unable to extend the lead despite the opportunities on the man advantage. Passes were missing, pucks were jumping over sticks and out of the zone, and they came up empty again with chances to extend the lead against Phoenix. The second period ended with another scrum, highlighted by a conversation between the goaltenders near the benches before the teams exited.
Coincidental unsportsmanlike penalties to Niklas Hjalmarsson and Shane Doan proved to be the catalyst for a flurry of goals in the third. The Coyotes were already applying pressure in the third period and broke through at 8:16 on a point shot from Rostislav Klesla. Boyd Gordon won a battle against Nick Leddy to free the puck up for Boedker, who passed back to Klesla for the slap shot. Crawford did not see it through Gordon’s screen, giving up his first goal of the game through 28 shots.
A mere 33 seconds later, Michael Frolik regained the lead for the ‘Hawks on a juicy rebound from Mike Smith. Brent Seabrook put the original shot on goal as he streaked up the right wing and Frolik’s backhand chip was enough to beat Smith and give the home team a 2-1 lead.
It would be short-lived, however, as Ray Whitney picked up a rebound of his own 32 seconds later and tied the game at 9:21 of the third. Klesla through the puck towards the net from the left boards. Crawford lost the shot when it deflected off the Duncan Keith and Daymond Langkow battle in front. The puck squirted out to an open side, where Whitney had time and plenty of net to tie the game at 2-2.
There were not many great chances in overtime, although Viktor Stalberg did get off an slot attempt that was soaked up by Smith and the Bolland line put in a good shift on the way to six shots for the Blackhawks. Brent Seabrook blocked a Klesla shot that ended being the best opportunity for Phoenix, who ended up with only two shots in the overtime.
That second shot, of course, was off the stick of Boedker. Taylor Pyatt won the race to the puck against Hjalmarsson in the corner and fed Boedker. He pulled the trigger before Crawford could take position against his post to end the game. It was a chance from a very sharp angle and undoubtedly a goal that Crawford would like back.
– The hit from Torres was late, which is why league officials have said that the hit, “went unseen,” and therefore was not penalized. Torres also appeared to leave his feet before making contact and put his shoulder into Hossa’s chin. The hit warranted a suspension even before taking Torres’ priors into account, but it is anyone’s guess at this point just how harsh the NHL will be in a given situation.
– Overtime goal aside, Crawford was a big reason Chicago even made it to overtime. The third period got sloppy for the ‘Hawks in their own zone and they wound up chasing the ‘Yotes around.
– Andrew Shaw‘s 3-game suspension was announced Tuesday afternoon by Brendan Shanahan to a mix of vitriol and bewilderment. Michael Frolik suited up in his place. Dylan Olsen saw his first game but did not even play five minutes as Quenneville rode his other five defensemen for much of the game, particularly Duncan Keith (34:21) and Brent Seabrook (33:44).
– With Shanahan not present, the United Center instead turned her attention on goaltender Mike Smith. The traditional “Let’s go ‘Hawks” chant was replaced by “Mike Smith sucks” early in the first and repeated throughout the game. One can only assume the chant was never directed at Raffi Torres because of the egregious nature of Mike Smith’s, uh, offense.
– Game 4 is Thursday at the United Center at 7pm central.
In addition to covering the Blackhawks for TheThirdManIn.com, Brad is also the Blackhawks correspondent at HockeysFuture.com.