COYOTES at BLACKHAWKS
(Phoenix leads best-of-seven series 3-2)
TV: CNBC, TSN, RDSI, FS-Arizona+ (HD), CSN-Chicago (HD)
Big Story: It was exciting when the first two games of this series finished in overtime, crazy when Game 3 went to OT and downright ridiculous when the fourth game also lasted past 60 minutes. With Game 5 reaching overtime as well, it's now starting to feel like part of a regular game between Phoenix and Chicago – and for the Hawks, just like any game in general.
Counting the regular season, the Blackhawks have now played eight straight games that went past regulation and 11 of their last 13 have needed at least an OT to decide the winner. Also, counting last season's first-round marathon against Vancouver, Chicago has now played in seven straight OT playoff contests.
"It's tough on the ticker," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville quipped, following a 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena. That win pulled the Hawks within 3-2 in the series and gave them a chance to force Game 7 by winning Monday at United Center.
Coyotes: Phoenix had a golden chance to win the franchise's first playoff series in a quarter of a century and the first ever as the Coyotes. The "White Out" was in full effect, Mike Smith
looked sharp in net again and it seemed like victory was all but certain after Gilbert Brule
's shot from the right circle off a 3-on-1 rush in the second period beat Chicago's Corey Crawford
for a 1-0 lead. Instead, the Hawks once again found a way to knot it up in the third and force overtime – when Blackhawks star captain Jonathan Toews
ended it to push the series back to the Windy City. Now, the Coyotes must regroup in order to avoid even more pressure in a Game 7 situation. Good thing they've won four straight at Chicago's United Center, including the regular season.
"We're going to go up there and battle," Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. "We need one win to win the series. They came out and played a very good game and I thought we could have done some things a lot better … but it was still a tight, tight game. We're going up there with the same mind-set and find a way to win one."
Blackhawks: After winning Game 4 in Chicago, the Coyotes carried all the momentum in this series back home to the desert. Then, just as fast as Jonathan Toews
could wrist a laser into the far upper corner of the net to win Game 5 in OT, the Hawks stole some of it right back. Nick Leddy
also made sure it got to overtime with his first career goal in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scored midway through the third period. It was the fourth time in the series that Chicago has tied the game in the third and sent it to OT, with the other three coming much later. The Blackhawks now have a chance to really gain momentum with a victory in Game 6 – which would force a seventh and deciding game on Wednesday at Jobing.com Arena.
"We don't want to be in this position, but anything can happen," Leddy said. "We got down 3-0 last year [in the first round to Vancouver] and we took it all the way to Game 7 in overtime. We know we have the people in this room to do it, and the desire to make it happen."
Who's Hot: After scoring just five goals with 10 assists and being a healthy scratch 19 times this season, Chicago's Michael Frolik
has recorded points in three straight playoff games – including goals in Game 3 and Game 4.
Injury Report: No timetable has been set for the return of Chicago star forward Marian Hossa
(upper body), who was knocked out of Game 3 by an illegal hit from Raffi Torres
; Martin Hanzal
(lower body) and Lauri Korpikoski
(upper body) each missed their third straight game on Saturday night and are questionable again for the Coyotes on Monday.
Stat Pack: Thanks to all the overtime action, Chicago's top defense pair – Duncan Keith
(31:14) and Brent Seabrook
(31:00) – are averaging more than 30 minutes a game.
Puck Drop: The Blackhawks might have picked up some added motivation to come back from a 3-1 deficit and win the series. Torres was assessed a 25-game suspension on Saturday for his hit that injured Hossa. If he doesn't serve all 25 games during the playoffs, the remaining games spill over to the start of next season at forfeited cost of $21,341.46 per game. If Chicago wins the series, Torres will have 21 games left and be out $448,170.66 of his reported $1.75 million salary.