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The Desert Dog Blog: Coyotes Received Several Clutch Performances in Game 3

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes
Several Coyotes delivered under-the-radar clutch performances in Game 3 on Tuesday night that are worth noting before the hype for Game 4 begins shortly.

Rostislav Klesla
Defenseman Rostislav Klesla is atop that list. Klesla notched a goal and two assists in Game 3 and was a plus-2 in an overtime game that last 73:15.

In addition to his three-point game – just the second of his decade-long NHL career – Klesla delivered three hits, took six shots on goal and played stingy defense in his 21:00 of ice time.

“When there’s a chance, I like to contribute,” Klesla said after Wednesday's practice at the United Center. “We need secondary scoring so every time we can get somebody like that contributing it’s a big help for our team.”

• Like Klesla, forward Mikkel Boedker scored the first playoff goal of his NHL career in Game 3. It was the game-winner in overtime. He also assisted on another goal.

The Coyotes are hoping the young Dane will bottle the confidence he earned from this performance and use it to help him produce many more in these playoffs and beyond.

On Wednesday, Boedker said the Coyotes are playing their system well thus far in the series.

“They’ve got skilled guys and we just try to limit their chances and play on our chances, and so far I think we’ve done that,” Boedker said.

• And how about goalie Mike Smith.

Smith, of course, wasn’t even a lock to play in Game 3 because of the hit to the head he absorbed from Chicago’s Andrew Shaw in Game 2, and yet he played on Tuesday and stopped 35 of 37 shots.

After game he was asked to comment on the three-game suspension the NHL gave Shaw for his hit:

“That’s up to the League, “ Smith said. “…Obviously you can’t hit the goalie (and) they’re cutting down on that kind of stuff, so that’s all I have to say about that.”

Mike Smith and Corey Crawford had to be separated in Game 3.
Photo by Getty Images.
At one point during Tuesday’s emotional game, Smith and Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford chirped each other as teammates around them exchanged pushes and shoves.

“I asked (Crawford) where a good spot for dinner was tonight,” Smith joked after reporters asked him what the two netminders were saying to each other. (It’s) playoff-like atmosphere, and I wouldn’t expect anything less than for the emotions to run high, and that goes for both goalies. It’s fun to be a part of.”

• At the start of his press conference on Wednesday at the United Center, Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett was asked for an update on injured forwards Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski, both of whom missed Game 3.

“(They) are just the same, day-to-day,” Tippett said. “…Everybody’s getting treatment today and whatever they have to do today. We’ll evaluate them in the morning.”

Dave Tippett
After giving that response, Tippett spent the next nine minutes answering questions about the hit forward Raffi Torres delievered on Marian Hossa in the first period of Game 3. What follows are Tippett's three most interesting remarks, in my opinion:

1. "I’ve seen a lot of other hits like it around the League. It’s a fast game. The thing about TV is you can slow it down and you can click it and click it and click it, but when you’re out there on the ice it’s not slowed down and click, click, click, it’s a fast game. I don’t think there was a malicious intent on Raffi's part. He’s a hard hitter, that’s the way he plays the game and he turned coming full speed, caught a guy right in the chest, and unfortunately the player was injured."

2. "The one thing our group is very focused on is making sure it doesn’t overshadow everything. We’re a focused group. Today we had zero talk about what the League is doing with suspensions or this or that. Our focus is on what we have to do to play better tomorrow night in Game 4."

3. "We’re going to play to win. That doesn’t mean we’re going to play dirty or play to hurt anybody, that’s not what I’m saying. We’re going to play to win. And to win in the playoffs you have to play hard.”

►Click here to watch Tippett's press conference in its entirety.

• With Torres suspended indefinitely and heading to New York for a disciplinary hearing with the League on Friday, the Coyotes on Wednesday recalled forward Matt Watkins from the American Hockey League. Click here to read more.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.
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