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Blackhawk attack crushed by red-hot goalie Mike Smith

Updated: May 25, 2012 8:17AM

As good as the Blackhawks were in the first two periods in Game 6 — and they were very good — Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith was simply better.

The Hawks outshot the Coyotes 16-2 in the first period and held a 22-6 advantage by the time Phoenix took the lead midway through the second period of their series-clinching win in Game 6 at the United Center.

But everything the Hawks conjured — Patrick Kane setting up Andrew Shaw at the doorstep, multiple close-range efforts from Jimmy Hayes, a highlight-reel sequence from Viktor Stalberg and Jonathan Toews that set up Brendan Morrison for a 12-footer in front of net — Smith countered, as he dragged his team to its first playoff-series victory since the franchise moved to Arizona.

“It was one of those games,” Smith said of his 39 saves in the first postseason shutout of his career. “. . . Not one save [stood out], it was just kind of the rhythm of the game. It seemed like the ice was titled a little bit the first couple periods, but we gathered ourselves between the second and the third and found a way to win.”

Smith finished the series with a ridiculous .950 save percentage, stopping 229 of 241 shots, and won all three games at the United Center.

It’s a far cry from the goalie who had an .899 save percentage in just 22 games as a backup for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season.

“No chance,” Smith said when asked if he could have imagined making the second round with the season he’s had this year. “Probably through last season I didn’t know if I was going to play a game again in this league, let alone get to where we are as a team now.”

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