Coyotes to play against Predators in semi-final after beating Blackhawks. Phoenix Coyotes advances to the Western Conference semi-final to meet Nashville predators after the victory against Chicago Blackhawks. Coyotes vs Blackhawks 4-0!!!!!
Smith, Coyotes oust Blackhawks 4-0
Keith Yandle had the perfect description for the Phoenix Coyotes’ stunning 4-0 victory in Game 6 Monday to win the Western Conference series against the Chicago Blackhawks: Rope-a-Dope.
“The first and second (period), we jumped on the ropes and took a couple of body shots and head shots,” said the Coyotes’ defenseman, referring to the famous tactic of boxing legend Muhammad Ali. “We weathered the storm and stuck to our game plan.”
The Blackhawks outshot the Coyotes 16-2 in the first period and 28-8 through two, but couldn’t beat goalie Mike Smith, who ended up stopping 39 shots in the shutout.
Phoenix, which won its first playoff series victory since the franchise moved from Winnipeg for the 1996-97 season, advances to the Western Conference semifinals against the Nashville Predators. The Coyotes were 0-7 in playoff series in Arizona.
The Coyotes made the most of their limited opportunities, taking a 1-0 lead after two periods on Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s power-play goal midway through the second and adding another by Gilbert Brule about 2 ½ minutes into the third to provide a cushion. They padded the score with two goals in the final seven minutes.
“I told our guys we were pretty good after we got it to 4-0,” quipped coach Dave Tippett. “Before that, it was Mike Smith.”
The Blackhawks were eliminated in the first round for the second consecutive year after winning the Stanley Cup in 2010.
Smith, 30, acquired as a free agent last summer, stymied the Blackhawks all series, but was particularly impressive Monday.
“We had everything we were looking for, except a goal,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said of the first two periods.
“It’s not a one-man show,” said Smith, crediting his defense. “It was just one of those games, pucks were hitting me and our guys were doing a good job to get the rebounds out of there and tie guys up after their shots.
“It seemed like the ice was tilted a little bit for the first couple of periods, but we gathered ourselves between the second and third and found a way to win a huge hockey game.”
Smith thwarted Chicago at point-black range several times — the most spectacular a pad save on Brendan Morrison’s wide-open shot from 12 feet after a perfect pass from Jonathan Toews five minutes into the second period.
Ekman-Larsson scored the first goal of the game on a slap shot from just inside the blue line on a power play midway through the second period. Goalie Corey Crawford was screened on the play by center Martin Hanzal, as the Coyotes took advantage of a Toews penalty.
Brule took Kyle Chipchura’s feed from behind the net and beat Crawford from 14 feet away 2:24 into the third period to provide the Coyotes a cushion and deflate the 21,636 fans in attendance, including basketball legend Michael Jordan.
The Coyotes added two more goals in the final seven minutes.
Chicago’s Jimmy Hayes received a five-minute major and game misconduct for boarding Michal Rozsival and Phoenix converted that into Antoine Vermette’s power-play goal at 13:04. Less than two minutes later, Chipchura pounced on a loose puck in front of the net and beat Crawford.
The Blackhawks were again ineffective on the power play, going 0-for-2 and finishing the series 1-for-19 with the man-advantage. High-scoring forward Patrick Kane was held without a goal in the series and Patrick Sharp was limited to one goal and no assists. (Mike Dodd – USA TODAY)