Smith, Coyotes finish off Hawks
CHICAGO – Mike Smith made 39 saves, and the Phoenix Coyotes scored three times in the final period to beat the Blackhawks, 4-0, on Monday night and capture their opening-round series in six games.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored in the second and Gilbert Brule, Antoine Vermette and Kyle Chipchura had goals in the third as the Coyotes won a first-round series for the first time since moving to Phoenix for the 1996-97 season. It is the first series triumph for the franchise since 1987 when it was still the Winnipeg Jets.
The Coyotes won all three games at the United Center – Monday night's game was the first in the series not to be decided in overtime – and now move on to play Nashville in the conference semifinals.
Smith was steady all night and spectacular at times, especially early, in recording his first playoff shutout. He had 229 saves in the six games.
The Hawks had a 39-20 shots advantage, but after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Hawks have been ousted two straight years in the first round.
Ekman-Larsson's long slap shot from the top of the slot on a power play sailed by a screened Corey Crawford at 13:14 of the second period after the Hawks had forced the action most of the night.
Martin Hanzal, who returned after missing three games, provided the screen for the Coyotes, who scored on their sixth shot of the game and went on the power play after an interference call against Hawks captain Jonathan Toews. The Hawks had 22 shots at the time of the Coyotes' score, but Smith was too good to crack.
And then Brule took Chipchura's nice pass from behind the net early in the third and poked it past Crawford for a two-goal lead. The Blackhawks had rallied in the third-period four times during the series to the tie game, but not on this night with the 6-foot-4, 218-pound Smith stopping everything thrown his way.
The Hawks' Jimmy Hayes was given a game misconduct and a 5-minute boarding penalty when he slammed Phoenix's Michael Rozsival from behind and drove him face first into the glass. Rozsival stayed down on the ice for about a minute and then skated off with some assistance at 8:47 of the third.
The Hawks nearly killed the 5-minute power play off before Vermette scored with 42 seconds remaining by tipping in a shot – his fourth goal of the series. Just less than two minutes later, Chipchura scored again.
The Hawks came out and dominated play in the early going with an 11-1 shots-on-goal advantage in the opening nine minutes. Only two great stops by Smith on point-blank attempts by Andrew Shaw and Hayes kept the Hawks from taking an early lead. Another shot attempt by Johnny Ouya hit the side of the goal. The Hawks had eight shots in the first 3:14 of the game, peppering Smith, and finished the scoreless period with a 16-2 advantage.
Smith stopped Toews in the first minute of the second and then used his left pad to snuff Brendan Morrison after he moved into the slot for a pass from Toews. Minutes later a scrum in front of the goal resulted in Smith sitting on the puck with the Hawks' Patrick Kane and Andrew Brunette down on the ice with him following a hard shot from Niklas Hjalmarsson.