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Sunday, April 15, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Hawks 4, Coyotes 3

By Jesse Rogers

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- A quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena in Game 2 of their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

How it happened: Bryan Bickell's second goal was the game winner in overtime as the Hawks tied the series at 1-all. Improbably, for the second straight game, Brent Seabrook came through in the clutch in the closing seconds. With an extra attacker on the ice for the goalie, Seabrook’s point shot was tipped in by Patrick Sharp with 5.5 seconds remaining in regulation to tie the game. In the first two periods, it was a special teams-filled game that was going the Coyotes’ way as they scored two power-play goals to the Hawks’ one. Chicago scored first for the second straight game when Bickell tallied out of midair on a rebound of a Dave Bolland shot during a first-period man advantage. But Phoenix scored twice before the opening 20 minutes were over. Shane Doan beat Duncan Keith behind the Hawks' net, then found Raffi Torres in front for the tally. Then Jonathan Toews was inexplicably called for goaltender interference, and Antoine Vermette tipped one in from in front of Corey Crawford on the ensuing power play. Brandon Bollig tied the game in the second period with his first career goal, but Phoenix retook the lead on another power-play score from Vermette after Andrew Shaw was called for charging on Coyotes goalie Mike Smith. The Hawks failed to record a shot on goal in the opening nine minutes of the third period, but Seabrook and Sharp performed their heroics before the final buzzer went off.

Questionable calls: At least one of two Coyotes power-play goals came after controversial penalty calls that went against the Hawks. First, Toews was called for goaltender interference despite Smith initiating all the contact. Vermette’s first goal came on that ensuing power play. Then Shaw’s hit on Smith could have been called a two-minute minor penalty, but the referees deemed it a major penalty and kicked Shaw out of the game. The game misconduct means he could be further punished by the league.

What it means: Bickell’s two goals were huge, and the Hawks stayed in the game despite playing poorly on the penalty kill. Both power-play goals were a result of men open in front of Crawford without a Hawks defender near them. It’s been a season-long problem, and it continued in Game 2. On offense, Joel Quenneville changed up the lines, and it produced some chances with Toews, Sharp and Viktor Stalberg skating together, as did Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Andrew Brunette for a while. Seabrook has proved to be clutch and has the best shot from the point, but it was the unlikely star, Bickell, who will garner the headlines. It’s a huge win when a loss seemed likely.

What’s next: The series shifts to Chicago with Game 3 on Tuesday after an off day Sunday and a practice session Monday.