Blackhawks’ pattern of forcing OT stresses danger for Coyotes
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org April 15, 2012 9:16PM
Chicago Blackhawks v Phoenix Coyotes - Game Two
Updated: May 17, 2012 8:13AM
It’s not exactly the recipe the Blackhawks want to use to advance past the Phoenix Coyotes, but they think they’ve sent a message by forcing overtime in the final seconds of each of the first two games of this playoff series:
Don’t ever count them out.
‘‘It’s unfortunate it had to come down to that, but, hey, it makes it exciting,’’ center Jonathan Toews said after the Hawks evened the series at one win apiece with a 4-3 overtime victory Saturday. ‘‘We don’t want to have to be in that situation, but if we happen to be there, we know we’re going to get chances and we’re going to put some pressure on them.’’
Center Dave Bolland called Saturday’s win, courtesy of Patrick Sharp’s tying goal with 5.5 seconds left in regulation and Bryan Bickell’s game-winner halfway through overtime, ‘‘a momentum changer.’’
While not insurmountable, a 2-0 series hole certainly wouldn’t have inspired confidence. In the last four seasons, each time the Hawks lost the first two games of a playoff series (2009 against the Detroit Red Wings and 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks), they failed to advance.
‘‘It’s a huge difference,’’ Toews said. ‘‘We’re going home with a lot of momentum and excitement. We’re looking forward to playing in our own building. It’s something where once you get it, you can’t let it go.’’
Toews was the victim of one of the worst calls so far in this series when he was cited for goaltender interference in the first period Saturday.
Toews received a pass and had a scoring chance in close on Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. Replays showed Smith clearly initiated contact by shoving Toews, who couldn’t control the puck. The Coyotes scored on the ensuing power play.
‘‘I don’t think I’m the type of player who is thinking about crashing the goaltender with the puck,’’ Toews said. ‘‘I was trying to score there, and I lost it. The puck bounced over my stick, and I think I kind of turned into him as quick as I could. He got his hands up in my face to protect himself, so I don’t think there is any harm done there.’’
The Coyotes lost key forwards Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski to injuries in Game 2. Coach Dave Tippett didn’t say much regarding their statuses afterward. The Coyotes were off Sunday and depart for Chicago on Monday morning.