Bryan Bickell scores winner in OT as Blackhawks even series
BY ADAM L. JAHNS email@example.com April 15, 2012 12:24AM
GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 14: The Chicago Blackhawks celebrate after Bryan Bickell #29 scored the game winning goal against the Phoenix Coyotes in overtime of Game Two of the Western Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Jobing.com Arena on April 14, 2012 in Glendale, Arizona. The Blackhawks defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Updated: May 16, 2012 8:27AM
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith went down like he was shot. He spun around, and his gloves flew off. He grabbed his facemask.
Blackhawks grinder Andrew Shaw simply looked stunned.
Their run-in behind the Coyotes’ goal in the second period of Game 2 on Saturday at Jobing.com Arena was another wrinkle in a series that has grown increasingly more intense with every period. In the end, the Hawks were able to find a way to beat Smith and win 4-3 in overtime to even the series at one game apiece.
Bryan Bickell scored the game-winner at 10:36 of overtime on an assist from Viktor Stalberg after a turnover by Adrian Aucoin.
Patrick Sharp forced overtime with 5.5 seconds left in regulation.
“The puck was finding me tonight, and it was exciting to get the goal to get the team the win,” Bickell said. “It’s going to be exciting going back to Chicago now.”
The incident between Smith and Shaw played a huge role in the game and has a chance to have lingering effects.
Shaw received a five-minute major penalty for charging and was ejected. Shaw’s shoulder made contact with Smith’s facemask, and it’s possible he’ll have a disciplinary hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.
Goalies are not “fair game” outside the crease, according to NHL rules, and the onus is on the opposing player to avoid contact. Shaw’s hit, though, didn’t appear to be intentional.
Smith, who has a history of concussions, lay on the ice for several minutes and was examined by Coyotes staff, but he remained in the game despite appearing to be hurt at first.
“He went to play the puck, and his stick came up towards my face,” Shaw said. “I tried to get out of the way of it and unfortunately made a little contact. I did not try to hit him at all. I tried getting out of the way. Unfortunately, I did make contact.”
Said Coyotes captain Shane Doan: “I mean he hits a goalie in the head. They want to get rid of blows to the head, period. Trust me, I know. It’s a blow to our goalie’s head behind the net, and I know that the GMs had talked about how that’s something they definitely want to make sure that doesn’t ever get into the game and we’ve got to protect our goalies.”
Mike Smith didn’t meet the media because he was getting treatment after the game.
The Coyotes scored on the ensuing power play as Antoine Vermette tallied his second of the game. Coyotes agitator Raffi Torres had another strong performance, maintaining his physical play and adding a goal in the first to erase the Hawks’ 1-0 lead.
Bickell’s power-play goal gave the Hawks the lead just 3:05 into the game. But it didn’t take long for coach Joel Quenneville to alter his lines after the Coyotes followed by scoring twice in the first period.
Patrick Kane was moved to center between Marian Hossa and Andrew Brunette and Jonathan Toews centered Sharp and Viktor Stalberg. Rookie center Marcus Kruger was dropped to the fourth line after previously centering the second, and Dave Bolland’s checking line remained the same, until Shaw was ejected.
The Hawks, though, still looked out of sorts at times.
Despite the Hawks’ decent shot total, the Coyotes were able put them on their heels often. The Coyotes beat the Hawks to pucks and won more battles along the boards, leading to offensive chances. Edgy players like Torres stood out again.
“You’re going to see a desperate team [in the Hawks], but you see that in every playoff game, every single playoff game,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “There’s desperation on both sides. It comes down to execution, doing the little things right, having discipline, staying out of the penalty box and strong goaltending. I expect both teams to play very hard; it’s just a matter of who can find a way to win.”
Smith was definitely doing that for the Coyotes, who lost giant forward Martin Hanzal to a leg injury in the first period. Smith also was able to draw an interference penalty on Toews in the first period, although he appeared to initiate the contact with a shove. Vermette then scored on the following penalty.
The Hawks struggled on the penalty kill, but received another strong performance from Corey Crawford (30 saves) in goal. Enforcer Brandon Bollig scored his first career goal to tie the game at 2.