Sunday, April 15, 2012
Another dramatic finish a winner for Hawks
By Jesse Rogers
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coach Joel Quenneville recognizes the uniqueness of the endings to the past three postseason games his Chicago Blackhawks have been involved in, including a Game 7 overtime loss to end their season last year.
“Three straight playoff games, all the same type of fashion on the road,” Quenneville said after an improbable 4-3 win Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes to even their Western Conference quarterfinal series at one game apiece.
Bryan Bickell scored twice for the Blackhawks in Game 2, including the game-winner in overtime.
The Hawks tied each of those games very late in the contest. Both times this series, the Hawks had their goalie on the bench for an extra attacker, which led to a frenzy in the offensive zone.
“Incredible,” Saturday's overtime-goal scorer, Bryan Bickell, said. “I’ve never been involved in something like that.”
In Game 1, Brent Seabrook scored with 15 seconds remaining to send the game to the extra session, only to see the Hawks lose 3-2. On Saturday, it was Seabrook again firing from the point where Patrick Sharp tipped it in, this time with just five seconds left in regulation. Then Bickell ended the night in overtime with his second goal of the game.
“Would be nice if our power play was 6-on-5; maybe we could score a few more,” Sharp joked.
Call them the cardiac kids. Make that four straight postseason games that have gone to overtime, including Games 6 and 7 last year against the Vancouver Canucks. Jonathan Toews' goal with two minutes remaining in regulation in Game 7 came short-handed, as did Patrick Kane's infamous 2010 tally in Game 5 against the Nashville Predators. The Hawks have a knack for the dramatic.
“We don’t want to have to be in that situation, but if we happen to be there, we know we’re going to get some chances and we’re going to put some pressure on them,” Toews said.
The win evened the series at 1-all. Neither team has led by more than a goal.
“We knew they had [a] tired defense out there,” Bickell said of his winner. “I got in the slot, lucky it went in.”
Bickell was asked whether he’d ever seen a team with back-to-back last-second goals with its goalie on the bench -- in the playoffs, no less.
“I think not a lot of teams have, but we never give up,” he said.
In the other locker room, coach Dave Tippett lamented his team’s inability to close out the game when the Coyotes had the chance.
“It was disappointing,” Tippett said. “We had a chance with the empty net coming up the ice that we didn’t take advantage of. We had the puck on our stick with 15 seconds remaining and couldn’t get it out, and it ends up in the back of our net. It’s tough luck.”
Or skilled play by the Hawks. Give them credit -- they’ve played far from their best and they’re somehow tied in the series.
“We did some good things as the game went on,” Quenneville said. “Very competitive game. It was on the line throughout.”
That last sentiment might well describe the rest of the series as well.