The Chicago Blackhawks will try to survive another elimination game tonight, as they host the third-seeded Phoenix Coyotes at the United Center for Game 6 of the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals.
All five games in this matchup have gone into overtime, tying a record set during the 1951 Stanley Cup Finals between Toronto and Montreal. The sixth- seeded Blackhawks won Game 5 by a 2-1 score to cut their deficit in this series to 3-2.
After Mikkel Boedker scored consecutive OT winners for Phoenix in Games 3 and 4 in Chicago, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews played the hero for his team in Phoenix on Saturday. Toews scored his second goal of the playoffs at 2:44 of the extra session to help Chicago stave off elimination.
Toews grabbed the puck after it popped out from a scrum along the right boards and he banked a shot in off the left post for the victory.
"I was just jumbling along the wall there and ended up getting the puck in the open ice in the middle and felt like I had enough time to get my head up and make a clear shot and look for some open space. I just went blocker side and happy it went in," Toews said of the game-winner.
Nick Leddy also scored while Corey Crawford turned away 18 shots in the win.
The last time the first five games of a playoff series were decided in overtime was 61 years ago when the Maple Leafs ousted the Canadiens in five games to win the Cup.
Chicago had an excellent 27-8-6 record as the host during the regular season, but the Hawks will have to win their first home tilt of this series to avoid losing in the first round for the second straight spring. The Blackhawks, who won the Stanley Cup in 2010, lost in seven games to Vancouver last year after falling behind 3-0 in that conference quarterfinal matchup.
The Blackhawks have never won a series after falling behind three games to one.
Phoenix, which hasn't won a playoff series since relocating from Winnipeg to Arizona prior to the 1996-97 season, is trying to avoid losing another series after holding a three games to one lead. The club has blown its three previous 3-1 series leads with the last time coming in 1999 against St. Louis.
The Coyotes, who won their first-ever Pacific Division title this season, last advanced to the second round in 1987 when Winnipeg beat the Calgary Flames in a Smythe Division semifinal.
Phoenix will host Game 7 on Wednesday if it can't end the series tonight. The Coyotes were 20-14-7 as the road team during the regular season.
"We're going up there with the same mindset, we're going to have to play a tight game and find a way to win," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said of his team's chances heading back to Chicago.
Gilbert Brule scored the lone goal on Saturday for the Coyotes, while Mike Smith made 36 stops in the loss.
Before the game, Phoenix learned that forward Raffi Torres was suspended by the NHL for 25 games stemming from an open-ice hit on Chicago's Marian Hossa in Game 3. Hossa is out indefinitely with a concussion.
The Blackhawks will get forward Andrew Shaw back tonight after he served a three-game suspension for hitting Smith behind his net in Game 2. The rookie had 12 goals and 11 assists in 37 games during the regular season.
Phoenix had forward Lauri Korpikoski back for Game 5 after he missed the previous two tilts with an upper-body injury. Centerman Martin Hanzal has missed the last three games with a lower-body issue and is questionable for tonight.