By Brad Gardner
Phoenix closed out their first round series win over the Chicago Blackhawks in front of a 39-save shutout by Coyotes’ goaltender Mike Smith. The ‘Hawks out-shot the visiting Coyotes 39-20 in the game but fell by a final score of 4-0. Rookie defender Oliver Ekman-Larsson opened the scoring in the second and assisted on another goal to help Phoenix pull away with three third period goals.
The Blackhawks dominated play in the opening period but came up empty on the scoreboard. They out-shot Phoenix 16-2 in the opening 20 minutes, winning foot races and board battles with consistency. Andrew Shaw, back in the line-up after serving a three-game suspension, had one of the best chances of the period by driving to the net and redirecting a pinpoint saucer pass from Patrick Kane.
Despite the one-sided opening frame, the teams dropped the puck for the second period scoreless. The ‘Hawks again carried play with prime scoring opportunities by Jonathan Toews on a strong drive to the net, Brendan Morrison with a weak one-time opportunity, and Niklas Hjalmarsson sending a heavy blast that Smith had trouble controlling. The Coyotes’ goaltender managed to snuff out each chance and soak up the rebounds. Read more