Game Preview

Coyotes try to eliminate Hawks

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM

John Kreiser - Columnist

Share with your Friends

Coyotes try to eliminate Hawks
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Phoenix Coyotes


(Phoenix leads best-of-seven series 3-1)

TV: NBCSN, TSN, RDS, CSN-Chicago (HD), FS-Arizona+ (HD)

Big Story: The Coyotes return to Arena with a chance to do something they've never done since moving from Winnipeg in 1996 -- win a playoff series.

Team Scope:

Blackhawks: The Hawks get an "A" for their ability to rally in the late stages of regulation -- they've scored three sixth-attacker goals to send games into overtime. But Chicago hasn't gotten the big goal or the big save in overtime, as the Coyotes have bounced back to win two of the three games on the way to a commanding lead in the series.

Chicago also needs more from its big guns -- while the role players have been producing, the stars have struggled offensively.

"Our top guys have to be better for us to be successful going forward," coach Joel Quenneville said Friday before the team flew to Phoenix. "We need them to be our best players, for sure."

Coyotes: In the space of a week, Mikkel Boedker went from a bottom-six forward to an overtime hero for Phoenix. Boedker got a chance for additional ice time when Lauri Korpikoski went down with an upper-body injury in Game 2; all he did is score back-to-back overtime winners in Chicago to give the Coyotes a 3-1 series lead. His winning goal in Game 4 was an individual effort -- he took the puck away from defenseman Nick Leddy, fought off Leddy's attempt to check him and slid the puck through the pads of goaltender Corey Crawford for the win.

"The kid's unbelievable; he's hot right now," goalie Mike Smith said. "He's taken advantage of his opportunities, and we need that from a lot of guys, and he's one of those guys that has all the talent and all the skill to be a top player in this League."

Who's Hot: Despite allowing three game-tying goals, Smith is the biggest reason the Coyotes are poised to win the series. He's allowed just 10 goals on 164 shots for a .939 save percentage.

Injury Report: Forward Marian Hossa didn't make the trip to Arizona for Game 5; he hasn't played since being leveled by Raffi Torres on Tuesday night. Andrew Shaw will sit out the third and final game of his suspension for running over Smith in Game 2. … The Coyotes are still without Korpikoski (upper body) and center Martin Hanzal (lower body). Torres sat out Thursday game while under suspension for the hit on Hossa; the NHL will announce Saturday if there will be any further discipline.

Stat Pack: The Coyotes and Blackhawks are the first teams in 71 years to go to overtime in each of the first four games of a playoff series. The only other time it happened was in 1951, when Montreal beat Toronto in a five-game series that saw all five games go into OT. … The Hawks set a playoff record Thursday by going into overtime for a sixth straight playoff game, including their last two in 2011. Unfortunately for the Hawks, they've lost four of the six.

Puck Drop: For a franchise that hasn't won a playoff series since 1987, it's almost impossible to estimate what a victory on Saturday night would mean -- especially to a team that has been without an owner for three years and has had to deal with numerous rumors about its eventual fate.

"It would be huge," said captain Shane Doan, the only member of the Coyotes who was with the team when it moved from Winnipeg after the 1995-96 season. "It's not going to hurt us, that's for sure. Winning the [Pacific Division] was big, and we'd never done that before. Finding a way to get out of that first round ... that'd be big."

series schedule/results
DateScoreW. Goal
Apr 12 '12 CHI 2 at PHX 3 - OT M. Hanzal
Apr 14 '12 CHI 4 at PHX 3 - OT B. Bickell
Apr 17 '12 PHX 3 at CHI 2 - OT M. Boedker
Apr 19 '12 PHX 3 at CHI 2 - OT M. Boedker
Apr 21 '12 CHI 2 at PHX 1 - OT J. Toews
Apr 23 '12 PHX 4 at CHI 0 O. Ekman-Larsson
J. Toews5224+5401
P. Kane5044+1000
M. Frolik3213+1000
N. Leddy5123+3000
B. Seabrook5123+1000
J. Oduya5033+2000
D. Bolland5033+1200
B. Bickell5202+1411
V. Stalberg5022+0800
P. Sharp5101-2400
A. Brunette5101-3000
B. Bollig4101+01900
B. Morrison2101+1000
D. Keith5011+1000
N. Hjalmarsson5011-3400
B. Saad2011+2000
M. Kruger5000-4000
M. Hossa3000+3000
J. Mayers3000-1000
A. Shaw2000+11500
S. Lepisto2000-2000
S. O'Donnell2000-3000
D. Olsen1000+0000
J. Hayes1000-1000
C. Crawford52-3131392.32.906
A. Vermette5314-3820
R. Klesla5134-1200
K. Yandle5044+4200
M. Boedker5213+2002
T. Pyatt5213-3200
S. Doan5112+1400
R. Whitney5112+0400
R. Torres3112+2200
D. Langkow5022+2000
B. Gordon5022+0000
G. Brule4101+0000
M. Hanzal2101+0201
D. Morris5011+2400
A. Aucoin5011+0600
O. Ekman-Larsson5011-3200
R. Vrbata5011-4000
M. Pouliot2011+1000
M. Rozsival5000-2000
K. Chipchura4000+1000
L. Korpikoski3000+0000
P. Bissonnette2000+01500
M. Smith53-2122022.13.941