Blackhawks in a 'must-win' situation now
Call it deja vu of the worst kind.
Call it unbelieveably bad luck.
No. 1 star Mikkel Boedker Phoenix
Game-winner in OT for the second straight game
No. 2 star Mike Smith Phoenix
30 saves; kept Coyotes in game all night
No. 3 star Michael Frolik Chicago
Sent the game to OT in final minutes
Call it what you want, but it happened again to the Blackhawks, this time in Game 4 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series against Phoenix.
In a game where they battled back from a 2-0 deficit midway through the third period to tie it up with less than a minute-and-a half remaining ... it happened again.
For the fourth straight time in this unbelievably tight series, the game went to overtime and — for the third time the Coyotes came away victorious.
And for the second straight time it was Mikkel Boedker who scored the surprising game-winner, this time just 2:15 into overtime as he somehow broomed one through Corey Crawford's legs to give Phoenix an improbable 3-2 overtime victory in front of an absolutely stunned full house at the United Center.
"Kind of comparable to the last game," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Brutal ending."
Indeed it was.
Two nights after sitting at his locker trying to explain what he deemed a "terrible" goal, there was Crawford again at a loss for words trying to explain how the Hawks have reached the edge of playoff extinction.
"I don't know how it went in there," he said in voice barely louder than a whisper. "I don't know how. I don't know ... it's brutal luck."
Indeed it was.
"Five minutes after a game like that it's frustrating," defenseman Duncan Keith admitted. "You work hard to come back to tie it up, fight you're way back and show a lot of character ..."
The Coyotes' second straight OT win on the road gives them a commanding 3-1 series lead with Game 5 on tap Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz.
"We'll take it to overtime, and we'll take the victory; it wasn't real pretty for us tonight but we like where we're sitting right now," said Taylor Pyatt, whose goal less than a minute after Shane Doan's gave the Coyotes a 2-0 third period lead. "It feels good.
"We know that fourth win is always the toughest one to get, so we'll enjoy this here tonight and prepare for the next game at home."
Meanwhile, Crawford and the Hawks have to regroup.
"You win as a team and you lose as a team," said Brendan Morrison, a surprise starter whose goal from outside the circle cut the lead to 2-1 midway through the third. "When a player makes a mistake on the ice it's not as glaring as when the goalie does.
"Corey's a big reason why we won that game in Phoenix. This is a team thing."
Michael Frolik tied the game inside the final two minutes, his second goal in the last two games. But the never-say-die Coyotes never did say die, coming back with the dagger a couple minutes into OT.
And now the Hawks' backs are squarely against the wall.
"We have to put it behind us and have our best game of the year in this next game," Keith said. "It's a must-win, obviously."
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