CHICAGO – It's more than lucky bounces that have brought the Phoenix Coyotes a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Quarterfinal series. It's the effort that creates turnovers and leads to goals like Mikkel Boedker's second overtime game-winner in succession.
Some of the Chicago Blackhawks understand that.
Jonathan Toews said in the deathly quiet Hawks' dressing room following Thursday's 3-2 overtime loss. "Boedker seems to be their guy in the last two games."
On Thursday, as he did two nights earlier, Boedker victimized Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford. This time, he shoved the puck between Crawford's pads at the conclusion of a breakaway 2:15 into sudden death. Crawford was dumbfounded -- as were 22,111 witnesses in the United Center.
"I was just playing it like a breakaway," Crawford said quietly, head down, sitting in his stall in the corner of the room. "He came in and I don't know how ... I can't imagine how it went through there. Just brutal.
"What a tough one. We battled back and ... I don't know. We just can't give up now. We've played some good hockey and had some brutal luck."
Crawford was buoyed by his teammates after the Game 3 overtime loss, when he led Boedker's bad-angled shot from just above the goal line slip through his pads. But this one -- a play on which Boedker broke past defenseman Nick Leddy in the neutral zone and then outmuscled him before sliding the puck through Crawford's pads -- seemed worse.
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"He was a big reason why we won Game 2 in Phoenix," said Brendan Morrison, whose goal midway through the third period began a rally from a 2-0 deficit. "We were down a goal late and he made a huge save. We're not going to single anyone out here and hang him out to dry. He's played well for us. Bad luck in a couple of ‘em, but it's a team game. We know he'll be ready for the next game."
Toews had empathy, and advice, for his goaltender.
"He's got to know what he means to our team and how well he's been playing," Toews said. "Without him, we wouldn't be having these chances in overtime. Goaltending is a position that you're naturally going to look at in this situation. He takes a lot of that responsibility, especially when we lose, and as well as he's playing, I don't think that's fair to him right now.
"He needs to just keep working hard and keep playing, and the same goes for every other individual in this room. Stick together, and we're going to be fine."
The Hawks know comebacks aren't impossible. They were down 3-0 to Vancouver last year and came back to force Game 7, which they lost in overtime. That end result isn't going to deter them from drawing on the experience as the series shifts to Glendale, Ariz., for Game 5 on Saturday night (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).
"We believe in each other," said Michael Frolik, whose goal with 1:26 left in regulation forced overtime for the fourth straight game. "We know we have a great group here, a strong group of guys. We know we did it last year. Nothing is impossible.
"We have to make the adjustments and be ready in Phoenix."