By Brad Vandenberk
The boards remained intact at the United Center as the Blackhawks played at home once again this weekend, finishing up a back to back, with the visiting Phoenix Coyotes.
On Friday night, they outlasted the Predators in overtime completing their season series. This game really didn’t mean a lot, but the Hawks obtained another two points toward gaining the President’s trophy.
The Coyotes came in looking to help gain some momentum for a late playoff push. Patrick Sharp remained out for this contest with an upper body injury. Ray Emery was unable to back up with recently called up Carter Hutton sporting the baseball cap. Michal Rozsival was also playing it safe sitting out after being hurt during the Dallas game on Monday night. Brandon Bollig, Dan Carcillo and Drew Leblanc got a bird’s eye view of this game. Jamal Mayers got back in the line up, getting to understand the pace that will be required come playoff time. Corey Crawford claimed the crease once again. Mike Smith returned from injury in getting the start for the visitors.
The Hawks got to Mike Smith right away. Both Marian Hossa and Johnny Toews ring one off the post with consecutive shots. The fourth line made up of Michal Handzus, Michael Frolik and Mayers dominate the play against the Coyotes top line. Smith makes some great saves to keep the Hawks off the board. Bryan Bickell gets the game’s first penalty getting called for interference. The penalty kill stands strong once again with some key shot blocks. Brandon Saad sends Hossa on a breakaway and Oliver Ekman Larsson hooks his hand resulting in a Hawks power play. Hossa got the shot off so a penalty shot was not awarded. The Hawks continue to pepper Smith during the man advantage. Bolland has a wide open shot at the side of the net but fires wide. Saad rips one from the slot and Smith absolutely robs him with the glove. Smith looks like the Smith we witnessed last year in the playoffs. The Hawks head back to the power play when Niklas Hjalmarsson gets hauled down by Chris Connor. Saad again, is active with Patrick Kane and trying to get the first goal.
Finally the Hawks get a chance on the power play when birthday boy Brent Seabrook finds the back of the net with a shot from the point. Andrew Shaw orchestrated a beautiful screen in front of Smith and it’s 1-0.
There was something in the air at the UC. Rusty Klesla dumps a puck on Crawford and it takes a funny bounce and flips over the perplexed net minder tying the game at 1.
The Yotes strike again when Marcus Kruger turns the puck over in the defensive zone. Radim Vrabta waits for Crawford to commit and he goes high blocker giving them a 2-1 lead.
The Hawks kill off a late Coyotes power play and the period ends with the Hawks down 2-1 and outshooting Phoenix 16-9.
The Coyotes come out firing to open the second. The Hawks respond and try to tie it early. Antoine Vermette brushes Bickell’s teeth with his stick and heads to the box.
The Hawks strike again on the power play. Just when you need the power play to heat up! Kane sends a blind back hand toward the net and happy birthday to me scores again. Seabrook finds the top shelf and it’s tied at 2.
Moments later Saad has trouble keeping up with the play and gets called for hooking. The Hawks brush this penalty off once again. The Hawks begin to dominate the play and try to grab the lead. Viktor Stalberg and Nick Leddy run into each other and the Hawks start to remind the 22,727 that they played the night before. Captain serious starts to mix it up as he gets hacked on the arm by Michael Stone on a rush to the net. Vermette heads to the box with 7 minutes left in the period for interference. He Hawks got great movement on the power play but are unable to capitalize. Hossa then heads to the sin bin after tripping Kyle Chipchura. The Hawks kill their fourth penalty of the game and they continue to out shoot the Coyotes 28-13 as the score remains tied at 2.
The final period opens with a sarcastic roar as Crawford makes a save on a long dump in shot. This wasn’t Crawford’s night as he tried to play a puck behind the net and blows a tire sending him crashing to the ice and leaving the cage wide open. Johnny Oduya gives a puck away and Crawford and the Hawks show their fatigue. Kruger gets a golden opportunity to break the tie, but fires over the net past a sprawling Smith. Crawford settles into his crease and makes some great point blank saves. Bickell makes his way toward the penalty box for crashing into Smith and getting called for goal tender interference. Hossa and Toews had a great chance shorthanded. They kill their 5th penalty of the night. Shane Doan sends Shaw into the boards awkwardly. He gets up and stays in the game. Right after Seabs hammers Vermette with Mayers lingering around. The game ends with an extra period of hockey needed to decide this one.
Just like the quick overtime goal the night before, the Hawks have a glorious chance to win it early in overtime. Kane gets a shot to the net, Seabs fires the rebound off Smith and Toews can’t bury the over Smith and the open net. At the other end, Oduya makes a great defensive play to stop a shot on Crawford. Hossa and Kane criss-cross and fire more pucks at Smith. The Yotes come back the other way and Crawford keeps the Hawks alive. Time expires and a shootout is required.
Toews opens up for coach Q. He speeds in and can’t beat Smith shooting it wide.
Mikkel Boedker roofs it over Crawford giving the Coyotes the advantage.
Kane slides the puck through Smith’s five-hole tying it at 1
Vrbata sends a backhand over the net with Crawford in great position.
Hossa’s next and works his patented slap shot from the hash marks. It beats Smith but not the crossbar.
David Schlemko moves in and pops the water bottle with a backhand winning the game for the Coyotes 3-2.
-Hawks outshot the Coyotes 38-31
-Hawks finally get the power play going and go 2 for 4. They kill off all 5 penalties the Coyotes were assessed.
-Toews was 16 for 26 in the faceoff dot and the next best Hawks center was Handzus winning 5 of 8.
-Duncan Keith led all Hawks in TOI with 30:30. Hjalmarsson was next playing 23:56.
-Hawks gain a point giving them 73 points on the year and closer to claiming the President’s trophy.
-The Hawks now travel to Western Canada to play the Canucks on Monday night. The entire roster will travel with the team as they play Vancouver and Edmonton early next week.