For just the second time in NHL history, the first 4 games of a playoff series have gone into overtime. The Blackhawks and Coyotes played their fourth straight overtime game tonight, and for the third time this series, Phoenix prevailed. In fact, for the second straight game, Mikkel Boedker scored the game winner in OT.
The Blackhawks came out on fire to start the game, and pretty much dominated the first period. They out-shot the Coyotes 11-5 and generated a number of decent scoring chances. Mike Smith, however, was on top of his game and did not allow a puck to get past him.
The second period seemed to favor the Coyotes, but not in terms of shots. The Hawks out-shot the Coyotes again in the second period, this time 12-5. Most of the shots by the Blackhawks were weak shots on goal that stood no chance of going in. Heading into the third period, the game remained scoreless.
About 7 minutes into the third, Shane Doan picked Johnny Oduya’s pocket from behind in the Hawks’ defensive zone, and fed Ray Whitney with a perfect pass for the one-timer. Corey Crawford was able to make a huge save on Whitney’s shot, but Doan grabbed the rebound and shot it past Crawford to give Phoenix the 1-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, Antoine Vermette made a fantastic pass to Taylor Pyatt from behind the net for a great one-timer that beat Crawford. This gave the Coyotes a 2-0 lead, and seemingly the game. The Blackhawks, however, would not go quietly.
With 9 and a half minutes left in regulation, Brendan Morrison beat Mike Smith with a slap shot from the left circle to put the Hawks on the board. This was also Morrison’s first goal as a Blackhawk.
Then, with just a 1:26 left in the third, Dave Bolland backhanded a shot on goal that either hit the post, or hit Mike Smith. The puck dropped behind and to the right of Mike Smith, leaving Michael Frolik with a wide-open net to tap the puck in. This tied the game at 2 apiece, and sent it to overtime for the fourth straight game.
Just 2 minutes and 15 seconds into overtime, Mikkel Boedker grabber the puck around center ice and skated in towards Crawford on a partial breakaway. Boedker was only able to release a weak, backhanded “tap” of a shot, but it somehow found its way in past Corey Crawford to win the game giving Phoenix a 3-1 lead in the series.
Tonight’s game just about sealed the deal on this series. Game 5 will be played Saturday night in Phoenix, with Blackhawks facing elimination. I should probably be careful with my words, however, considering the fact that the Blackhawks were able to send their first round series against the Canucks last year to a seventh game after trailing 3-0 in the series.
After watching all 4 games in this series, I just can’t seem to figure out what the Blackhawks are doing. In each game of this series, the Hawks have played a great first period. They scored the first goal of the game in the first 3 games, with each of those goals coming in the first period. Tonight, they came out the same way. They dominated the first period, but for the first time in this series weren’t able to get a goal.
The second period has been a nightmare for the Blackhawks through the first 4 games. After playing so well in each first period of this series, they have done the exact opposite in each second period. It is almost as though they lose all energy and motivation during the first intermission. They look lethargic and careless once the second period comes around.
The third period for the Hawks in this series has been mostly like their second periods, except for the last minute of regulation. Up until there is about a minute left and they are down by one goal, they flat out look bad and have zero energy. Once they pull the goalie, then they’re a completely different team. They begin playing with 110% effort. The Hawks now have 3 empty-net goals in the 4 games that have been played. Why does it take having to pull the goalie to get these guys energized and to get them to play at a high level!? It makes no sense!
Sure, Corey Crawford has allowed 2 terrible goals in the last 2 overtime periods, but if the Hawks would play with 110% effort from the start of regulation time, all the way through to the end of regulation, then maybe these games wouldn’t be going into overtime to begin with.
I said heading into tonight’s game that this was a MUST WIN for the Blackhawks. Unfortunately for them, and for all of us die-hard Hawks fans, they fell one goal short yet again and now face a 3-1 deficit in the series. If they want any hope at making a comeback, they are going to need to play the way that they have been playing in the last minute of regulation, but for the entire game.
Thanks for reading.