Published April 22, 2012
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Jonathan Toews scored 2:44 into overtime and Chicago Blackhawks staved off elimination with a 2-1 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night.
The Blackhawks came up with a tying goal in the third period for the fourth time in the series, though this one came a little earlier than the others with Nick Leddy scoring midway through the period.
That led to the fifth straight overtime game — a first since 1951 — and Toews ended it, beating Mike Smith stick side to pull the Blackhawks to 3-2 in the series.
Chicago rallied from a 3-0 deficit to force Game 7 against Vancouver in the second round last season and will have a chance to even the series in Game 6 on Monday night in Chicago.
Gilbert Brule scored his first career playoff goal in the second period, with an assist from Smith, and the Coyotes again gave up a tying goal in the third period. Unlike the two previous games, Phoenix couldn't come through in overtime, failing to wrap up its first playoff series victory in 25 years.
The Coyotes, who blew a 3-1 lead to St. Louis in 1999, played without forward Raffi Torres after he was suspended for 25 games earlier in the day for his Game 3 hit on Marian Hossa,
A tight and testy series has come down to a few big plays at just the right times for Phoenix.
The clog-the-lanes Coyotes bogged down the fleet Blackhawks through the first four games, giving Chicago's skill players little room to maneuver while getting superb goaltending from Smith.
The Blackhawks have had trouble getting traffic in front of Smith, their best chances coming in the closing seconds of regulation, when they've used frenetic flurries to score in the closing seconds.
Once the games got to overtime, the Coyotes had dominated. Mikkel Boedker had extra-period goals in the two games in Chicago to put Phoenix up 3-1.
The series also has been brutally physical, filled with big hits and numerous scrums between players.
Along with dozens of bone-rattling hits, Chicago rookie Andrew Shaw was suspended three games for upending Smith in Game 2, and Torres received the second-longest suspension in NHL history for an on-ice action with his hit on Hossa, who didn't make the trip to Arizona.
The barbarity has hit the Coyotes the hardest.
Forwards Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski missed both games in Chicago and leading goal-scorer Radim Vrbata played just one shift in the opening game. The everyone-chips-in Coyotes haven't flinched when players have gone out, using their depth and diversity to grind out victories.
Phoenix opened Game 5 just as it did in all the others, allowing Blackhawks plenty of scoring chances. Smith, as he has all series, wouldn't let them in, turning away 12 shots in a first period that included consecutive power plays by Chicago late.
The Coyotes were at their counterattacking best early in the second quarter, with Smith getting the puck out quickly to pick up an assist on Brule's breakaway goal.
The Blackhawks have been resilient all series, though, and kept clawing until Leddy scored from the right point midway through the third period on a shot Smith had trouble seeing after being clipped on the mask by Chicago center Dave Bolland.
This time Chicago was the team to come through in overtime, thanks to Toews' scramble and shot after a faceoff, and will head back to Chicago with momentum on its side.
Notes: LW Viktor Stalberg was called for all four of Chicago's penalties. ... The Blackhawks are 0-10 when trailing a series 3-1. ... Brule's goal came in his fourth playoff game.