Coyotes blank Blackhawks to advance
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - The Coyotes won a playoff series for the first time since coming to Phoenix thanks to Monday's 4-0 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series.
Since relocating to Phoenix from Winnipeg prior to the start of the 1996-97 season, the Coyotes have made the playoffs seven times, but this is the first time they've advanced. In all, the franchise had lost 10 straight opening- round matchups since the 1986-87 season.
Next up in the semifinal round for the Coyotes will be Nashville, which defeated the Red Wings in five games to advance. Phoenix will have home-ice advantage in the series thanks to winning the Pacific Division while the Predators finished fourth in the conference.
Phoenix and Chicago had played the previous five games to overtime, tying a record set by Toronto and Montreal in the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals, but this game was won thanks to 39 saves from Mike Smith, who posted his first career playoff shutout.
"It's such an achievement for our team and the franchise," said Smith. "It goes to show how hard we work and how resilient we are. We played good hockey in the third period and it just feels great right now."
Gilbert Brule, Kyle Chipchura and Oliver Ekman-Larsson each posted a goal and an assist for the Coyotes, who also got a goal from Antoine Vermette.
"Emotions are pretty high right now and all the guys are really excited," said Chipchura. "We're going to enjoy it for tonight, but tomorrow it's back to work."
Corey Crawford was tagged for all four goals on 20 shots for the Blackhawks, who were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round for the second year in a row after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010.
"Tonight Mike Smith had a special game," said Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville. "That had to get them pretty excited. I thought we played really well those first two periods, but we couldn't get anything through."
The first period passed scoreless as Smith was steady, stopping 16 shots which included a nice save off an Andrew Shaw one-timer on a 2-on-1 break about seven minutes in. Crawford needed to stop just two shots to keep the Coyotes off the board.
Smith continued to shine in the second period, making a left pad save and covering up the puck on a one-timer from Brendan Morrison, who was all alone to the right of the net with 14:58 left in the second.
Skating on the power play, the Coyotes finally broke through when a slap shot from Ekman-Larsson in the high slot made its way through a screen in front from Martin Hanzal with 6:46 to play in the second.
Just 2:24 into the third, Phoenix gave itself some room when Chipchura sent a backhand saucer pass from behind the net to the front where Brule one-timed it home.
Any chance Chicago had of rallying was killed when Jimmy Hayes took a major and misconduct for boarding Michal Rozsival at the 8:47 mark. Vermette scored off a tip-in from the left side thanks to a Mikkel Boedker feed with 6:56 to play.
Chipchura scored his first of the playoffs with 5:04 left to cap the scoring in the game and the series.
Phoenix defenseman Rostislav Klesla got cut in the face early in the game and left, but did return to play...Rozsival had to be helped off the ice and left the game following the hit...Phoenix went 2-for-4 on the power play while Chicago was 0-for-2.
04/24 01:30:51 ET