The Phoenix Coyotes will try to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in tonight's Game 2 from Jobing.com Arena.
Despite being just 14.2 seconds away from winning the game in regulation, the third-seeded Coyotes needed overtime to post Thursday's 3-2 win over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks in Game 1.
Phoenix finally earned the 1-0 series lead thanks to Martin Hanzal's game- winner 9:29 into overtime
Fresh off capturing their first division title since entering the NHL in 1979 as the original Winnipeg Jets, the Coyotes were mere seconds away from winning in regulation before Chicago defenseman Brent Seabrook forced overtime.
However, in the extra session, the Blackhawks continually iced the puck and it finally cost them on the game-winner. Off an offensive zone draw, Hanzal positioned himself in the slot and managed to redirect Adrian Aucoin's shot from the right point, giving the Pacific Division champs an early lead in this series.
"That was just a great feeling," Hanzal said.
Mike Smith made 43 saves for the Coyotes, who concluded the regular season on a five-game winning streak.
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored in his return after missing Chicago's final 22 games with a concussion. Toews was involved in his club's game-tying goal in regulation, as he deflected the rebound of a Patrick Kane shot to Seabrook, who was alone to bury the puck into an open net.
Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford recorded 31 saves for the sixth-seeded Blackhawks, who outshot Phoenix 18-8 in the third period
"Lost the momentum in that period, but I thought we got it back in the third and in overtime lost it again with the icings," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville.
While the Blackhawks got Toews back from injury on Wednesday, the Coyotes lost Radim Vrbata to an upper-body injury in the first period of Game 1. Vrbata, who led Phoenix with 35 goals during the regular season, did not return to the game and is questionable for tonight.
The Blackhawks and Coyotes have never met in the postseason and the Coyotes won three of the four regular-season meetings, including one in a shootout.
The Coyotes were 22-13-6 as the host this season at Jobing.com Arena, while Chicago was just 18-18-5 on the road.
Games 3 and 4 of this series will take place in Chicago on Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.