The Phoenix Coyotes will try to close out their Western Conference quarterfinal series tonight, as they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 from Jobing.com Arena.
The third-seeded Coyotes, who won their first-ever Pacific Division title this season, have never won a playoff series since moving from Winnipeg to Phoenix prior to the 1996-97 campaign. The Coyotes/Jets franchise last advanced to the second round since 1987 when Winnipeg beat the Calgary Flames in a Smythe Division semifinal.
The franchise's history also should warn Phoenix from being too proud of its 3-1 advantage in this series. The club has blown three previous 3-1 series leads with the last time coming in 1999 against St. Louis.
Meanwhile, Chicago has never won a series after falling behind 3-1. The Blackhawks almost pulled off a historic comeback last season when it erased a 3-0 series deficit in the opening round against Vancouver only to lose the decisive Game 7 in overtime.
The Coyotes have won the last two games of this series in overtime to grab control of the best-of-seven set. Mikkel Boedker scored both OT game-winners and tallied just 2:15 into the extra session in Thursday's Game 4 to lift Phoenix to the 3-2 decision in Chicago . Boedker capitalized on a turnover at center ice and broke free up the middle, but a pair of Chicago defenders closed in as he approached Corey Crawford. While momentarily tied up by Blackhawks rearguard Nick Leddy, the winger managed to push the puck through Crawford's pads and over the goal line for the decider.
"There [were] a lot of sticks and hooks and stuff [in front of the net], but it went in and it's an amazing feeling," said Boedker.
Shane Doan and Taylor Pyatt also scored for the Coyotes, while Mike Smith stopped 30-of-32 shots.
Brendan Morrison and Michael Frolik provided the offense for the sixth-seeded Blackhawks, who erased a 2-0 deficit late in regulation, but couldn't complete the comeback victory. Crawford finished with just 16 saves.
"It's a tough goal. We had some momentum, had some pressure, and it was a 1- on-1, it was a tough break man," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "Kind of comparable to the last game. Brutal ending."
Chicago was playing without veteran forward Marian Hossa in Game 4 after he was the victim of a questionable hit by Phoenix forward Raffi Torres in the previous meeting. Hossa will also miss tonight's game with apparent head and neck injuries, while Torres is suspended indefinitely.
Phoenix has won the last two games despite playing both tilts without forwards Martin Hanzal (lower body) and Lauri Korpikoski (upper body). Both players are questionable for tonight.