CHICAGO -- Mikkel Boedker
saw an opening. He may have been the only one.
Boedker's vision was matched by his aim. He threaded a low shot between the legs of goaltender Corey Crawford
13:15 into overtime Tuesday night, lifting the Phoenix Coyotes
to a 3-2 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks
in Game 3 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series at the United Center.
"It rolled through his legs," Boedker said. "I was trying to hit his pad. I thought of going to the net and I was actually shooting for a rebound, but it went through his legs and that was good for me and good for everybody in here."
The sudden turn of fortune gave the Coyotes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, and ended a collision-filled contest that included Raffi Torres
knocking Chicago forward Marian Hossa
to the ice in the first period. Hossa was briefly hospitalized. Torres was not penalized.
Afterwards, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett didn't want to think about was possibly losing Torres to a suspension for his check. Game 4 will be played in Chicago on Thursday night.
"We won't go there yet," Tippett said. "Before we lose him, let's really lose him. I worry about the things I can control right now, and that's not one of them."
The Coyotes regained the home-ice advantage with the win. Two more, and they're through to the second round of Stanley Cup play for the first time since the franchise moved from Winnipeg to Phoenix.
"Every win is important," Tippett said. "To come in here after losing the second game at home, to come in here tonight and get a win is certainly a big boost for us momentum-wise."
Phoenix was backstopped by goaltender Mike Smith
's 35-save performance, a showing that included a big stop on Viktor Stalberg
from 20 feet just 70 seconds into the overtime session.
Boedker had taken two shots before his overtime score, both of them turned away easily by Crawford. But he rued how he played Boedker's third shot.
"It's a terrible goal," Crawford said. "We dominated overtime. I thought I was feeling good the whole game long. I feel bad I gave 'em that one after the guys battled in overtime like that. It's definitely on me. We'll just worry about the next one now."
As will the Coyotes, who have the lead in the series and three wins in as many games at the United Center this season, including two regular-season victories. But winning in the playoffs does not mean perfection.
"We started the game very well and didn't capitalize on some chances," Tippett said. "They got a break on the one at the end of the first period (when Andrew Brunette
scored with 28.4 seconds left). Second period, penalties put us on our heels a little bit, but then after that it was an even game and we were fortunate enough to get the one that counted."
Brunette tipped Patrick Kane
's hard shot from the left slot after Marcus Kruger
beat Boyd Gordon
on a faceoff to Smith's left. That lead held up until 8:16 of the third period, when, with the teams skating 4-on-4, Rostislav Klesla
took Boedker's feed and slapped it past Crawford.
The tie lasted 33 seconds, snapped by Michael Frolik
's flip shot from the slot after a feed from Brent Seabrook
. And the Hawks' 2-1 advantage held up for only 32 seconds before Ray Whitney
, unguarded in the right slot, pounced on a rebound and hammered it past a sprawled Crawford to tie the game 2-all.
There things stood until Boedker's seeing-eye shot from deep left wing midway though overtime. Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson
and Coyotes left wing Taylor Pyatt
chased the puck into the left-wing corner, Pyatt nudged it toward Boedker, and he finished the job.
While the Coyotes can feel good about life for a few hours, the Hawks have to refocus, especially knowing that there's a chance they could be without Hossa for Game 4.
"We want to win the series," captain Jonathan Toews
said. "That's what it comes down to. It's tough to focus on hockey and not get caught up on the emotion of all the things that are going on after every whistle.
"I have to give it to our guys (tonight). We stuck with it. We were calm and composed and positive on the bench. Of course, we're angry. It's a natural reaction for anybody. Everyone loves Hoss, respects him and loves him as a teammate. It (stinks) to see that happen. We wanted to win that game for him tonight, but came up short. We've got to focus on getting the next one for him."