CHICAGO – For two straight games, the Chicago Blackhawks trailed the Phoenix Coyotes in the final stages of regulation and pulled goalie Corey Crawford for a late desperation surge with six attackers.
Both times it worked in the opening-round playoff series that is tied 1-1.
Chicago’s Brent Seabrook scored with 14.2 seconds to go in Game 1 to even it up before Phoenix pulled out a 3-2 overtime victory. On Saturday night, Patrick Sharp re-directed a shot into the goal with 5.5 seconds left to force overtime and this time the Blackhawks prevailed 4-3 on an extra-period goal from Bryan Bickell.
Now it’s on to the United Center for Games 3 and 4 on Tuesday and Thursday night.
“Both games they were fortunate to get a goal in the last minute. Give them credit. They keep coming,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “It’s the playoffs. That’s the way it’s always going to be. There are going to be momentum swings and big goals.”
After a wild final scramble Saturday night in which Chicago was able to keep possession of the puck, Seabrook fired off a long shot and Sharp re-directed it past Mike Smith, forcing another overtime in the heated and physical series.
And Bickell made sure the Blackhawks were rewarded.
“Nice to get home ice. Hope we can stand behind it,” Bickell said.
“We never give up. We score one with 14 seconds left and one with five seconds left to tie it up.”
Sharp, like most of his teammates, said scoring twice in the final seconds to force overtime is about as rare as it gets, especially in the playoffs.
“We had six guys moving the puck pretty well,” Sharp said. “We had a few chances to score. I knew Seabrook was going to pound it one last time with time running out and I was able to get a stick on it.”
Smith, whose strong play helped the Coyotes win a division title, faced 50 shots and was able to shake off a second-period hit after he was knocked to the ice by Chicago’s Andrew Shaw as he went to retrieve the puck behind the net.
He was down, groggy and attended to for several minutes but was able to stay in the game.
“I went back to play the puck and I didn’t see him coming. I don’t have eyes in the back of my head,” Smith said. “I feel fine. I’m 100 per cent.”
Shaw was sent off with a 5-minute charging penalty and a game misconduct.
“The league will look at that,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “Obviously, that’s contact to the head. Doesn’t matter if it’s a goaltender or a player, that’s blindside contact to the head and I’m sure the league will look at it.”
Shaw said he was not trying to collide with Smith, much less injure him.
“I was just in on the forecheck and he played the puck and when I saw I was coming close I tried getting out of the way and unfortunately I made contact,” Shaw told reporters after the game.
The Coyotes won both meetings in Chicago during the regular season, 4-1 and 4-3 in a shootout. In a scheduling quirk, the two games at the United Center were played six days apart in late November and early December. Now Phoenix will have to put the disappointing Game 2 loss behind it and get ready for the raucous crowd on the Blackhawks’ home ice.
“You never want to give the game away like the way we did, but at the same time it’s just one game and we have to go in there and win,” Doan said.
“We have confidence in our team on the road. We know how to play the game. Like I said, as ugly and as painful as it looks we all recognize that it’s one game. It’s going to be a long series.”
AP Sports Writer John Marshall in Glendale, Ariz., contributed to this report.