The Chicago Blackhawks evened their series with the Phoenix Coyotes at one game apiece with a thrilling 4-3 overtime victory at Jobing.com Arena in Phoenix, last night.
Much like Game 1, Game 2 offered a similar pattern and flow to the game: the Blackhawks opened the scoring early in the first period – in Game 1, Jonathan Toews scored the game’s first goal in the first four minutes of the game, in Game 2, Bryan Bickell scored the first goal of the game three minutes into the game; the Coyotes built a steady lead in both contests; then the Blackhawks scored a goal late in regulation – in Game 1, Brent Seabrook scored with 15 seconds remaining in regulation, in Game 2, Patrick Sharp scored with just six seconds remaining in the game.
But the difference in Game 2 was that the Blackhawks prevailed in overtime with Bickell’s goal, his second of the contest, at the 10:36 mark of the first overtime period, thanks to a gritty play by Viktor Stalberg who intercepted an errant Coyotes pass, fed Bickell with a pass from the left offensive zone wall and Bickell buried it home for the game-winner.
Once again, Mike Smith was once again spectacular in net for the Coyotes, stopping 46 of the 50 shots he faced from the Blackhawks – and has stopped 89 of 95, overall in the series for a .938 Save% - and even stayed in the game after nearly being knocked out of the game by the Blackhawks Andrew Shaw.
Playing a puck from behind his goal, Smith was broadsided by Shaw, who charged in from the right side. Smith threw his head back after being struck by Shaw’s shoulder and went to the ice in a heap, where he lay motionless on his back for several minutes as members of the Coyotes medical team hovered over him.
Shaw, who was stunned by the call, was sent off with a 5-minute charging penalty and a game misconduct.
The Coyotes then took advantage of the 5-minute power play opportunity and took the lead on Antoine Vermette’s second goal of the game to give the Coyotes the lead, 3-2.
And while Corey Crawford didn’t face the barrage of puck that Smith did, Crawford did make several spectacular saves to keep the Blackhawks in the game, mostly notably with 2.2 seconds left in the second period – on Raffi Torres – and on a bull rush by Vermette, trying to both win the game and register a playoff hat trick, five minutes into overtime.
Much like Game 1, the Coyotes tried to dictate the pace of the game, keeping the Blackhawks in their defensive zone for long shifts. But the Blackhawks’ prolific offensive weaponry eventually overcame the Coyotes’ game plan and forced the game into overtime.
So, with the series all tied up at one game, apiece, the now-energized Blackhawks return to the ‘Madhouse on Madison’ for Game 3 of the series.