The tightly-contested Western Conference quarterfinals series between the Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks will continue tonight, as the 'Hawks host Game 4 at United Center.
All three games in this series have been decided in overtime, with Phoenix taking Games 1 and 3 to grab a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven set. Mikkel Boedker's first career playoff goal was the overtime winner for the Coyotes on Tuesday, but unfortunately Game 3 will be best remembered for a vicious hit that sent Blackhawks star forward Marian Hossa to the hospital.
The hit in question was delivered by Phoenix forward Raffi Torres, who has been suspended indefinitely ahead of his hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan in New York on Friday.
Torres drilled Hossa with an open-ice shoulder hit in the first period of Phoenix's 3-2 win on Tuesday. He left his skates to deliver the shot, which forced Hossa off the ice on a stretcher and to the hospital.
Hossa was released from the hospital late Tuesday night and there is no timetable for his return. The Blackhawks have not disclosed the exact nature of the injury, but the team has ruled Hossa out of Game 4. Hossa hasn't recorded a point so far in this series, but he did lead Chicago with 77 points during the regular season.
Torres, who was not penalized on the play, could be facing a lengthy ban for the hit. The 30-year-old is considered a repeat offender and was suspended two games for a similar hit against Minnesota defenseman Nate Prosser in early January.
Tuesday's incident came on the heels of Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith being shaken up on a hit by Andrew Shaw in Game 2 on Saturday. Shaw was given a three-game suspension. Although he missed practice Monday, Smith made 35 saves the following night to backstop the Coyotes to a 2-1 series lead.
Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford would probably like to get another shot at stopping Tuesday's OT winner. Boedker beat Crawford from a sharp angle along the left goal line with 6:45 remaining in the extra session to lift the Coyotes to the 3-2 road victory.
Taylor Pyatt started the play by dumping the puck into the Chicago zone. Pyatt jostled with Chicago defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson while attempting to gain possession. A trailing Boedker then swooped in and managed to put the puck behind Crawford, who was hugging the near post.
"It's a tough angle to score from, but as long as you get it on net, anything can happen and this one squeaked through and it feels great," Boedker said.
Andrew Brunette and Michael Frolik record the goals for Chicago in Game 3, while Crawford made 31 saves before yielding the game-winner.
"Just a tough loss. I felt like we dominated overtime," said Crawford.
Each of Chicago's last five playoff games have gone beyond regulation. After tonight's game in the Windy City, the series will shift back to Phoenix for Game 5 on Saturday.
Phoenix won Game 3 despite playing without forwards Martin Hanzal (lower body) and Lauri Korpikoski (upper body). Hanzal, who normally centers the club's top line between wingers Radim Vrbata and Ray Whitney, was a game-time decision on Tuesday. Both players are questionable for tonight.
The Blackhawks and Coyotes have never met in the postseason and the Coyotes won three of the four regular-season meetings this season.