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Blackhawks rally late, then best Coyotes in overtime

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The Associated Press
4/15/2012 9:45:03 AM
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Bryan Bickell had his second goal 10:36 into overtime and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Phoenix Coyotes 4-3 on Saturday night after scoring in the closing seconds of regulation for the second straight game.

Phoenix won the opener 3-2 in overtime after giving up a goal to Brent Seabrook with 14 seconds left in regulation. Patrick Sharp did it to the Coyotes with even less time in Game 2, redirecting a shot by Patrick Kane with 5.5 seconds left.

The Blackhawks pulled it out this time, with Bickell beating Mike Smith from between the circles after Viktor Stalberg kept a pass by Rostislav Klesla in Phoenix's zone.

Brian Bollig also scored for Chicago, which tied the series at 1-1 as it heads back to Chicago for Game 3.

Antoine Vermette had two goals and nearly had a third in overtime, and Raffi Torres also scored for the Coyotes.

Smith made some big saves after nearly being knocked unconscious by Chicago's Andrew Shaw in the second period, but couldn't come up with the two that mattered the most, preventing Phoenix from going up 2-0 for the eighth straight playoff series since moving to the desert in 1996.

Phoenix won the opener by dictating the pace at just the right time, scoring two goals in the second period and the winner in overtime by keeping the Blackhawks in their zone for lung-burningly-long shifts.

Chicago had the early jump in Game 1, getting a goal from Jonathan Toews in his return from a concussion, and tied it in the final 15 seconds to force overtime. But for a puck-control team, the Blackhawks had a hard time holding onto it, bothered by Phoenix's forechecking and aggressiveness in the neutral zone.

Chicago again started fast, getting a power play 1:08 into the game and outshooting Phoenix 9-1. Bickell scored at the end of the man advantage with a waist-high whack on a rebound off Dave Bolland's shot, giving Chicago its first goal with a man advantage in its last 15 chances.

Just like Game 1, Phoenix fought back.

Torres tied it midway through the first period with a wrister out front after Shane Doan fought off a defender from behind the net to get the pass off.

Vermette later put the Coyotes up 2-1, camping out in front of Corey Crawford before redirecting a shot by Keith Yandle for his third of the playoffs.

The power-play goal came after Kane was sent to the penalty box for goalie interference, a call that infuriated the Blackhawks since he took the brunt of the collision with Smith.

A bigger crash in the second period gave the Coyotes a bigger boost -- following an initial scare.

After Bollig tied it with a wrister that beat Smith glove side, Phoenix's goalie provided his team and the crowd with a bit of is-he-really-staying-in-the-game inspiration.

Playing a puck behind his goal, Smith was broadsided by Shaw, who charged in from the right side. Smith threw his head back after being struck by Shaw's shoulder and went to the ice, where he lay on his back as four members of Phoenix medical team hovered over him.

Smith groggily sat up after a few minutes, prompting a chant of "Smitty! Smitty!" from the home crowd, then caused a roar as he gingerly skated toward his net. Smith squirted water from a bottle over his head, strapped his helmet back on and parked himself back in the crease.

Shaw, who was surprised by the call, was sent off with a 5-minute charging penalty and a game misconduct.

The adrenaline-infused Coyotes didn't long to score on the power play, Vermette putting them up 3-2 with a wrister from the left circle.

Smith was sturdy after nearly being cold cocked, stopping two power plays to end the second period and making several tough saves in the third.

But, just like the opener, he couldn't stop Chicago in the closing seconds.

With Crawford off for an extra attacker, the Blackhawks peppered Smith with a flurry of shots in the closing seconds. Smith turned back most of them, but couldn't react in time when Sharp, positioned right in front of him, ticked Kane's shot from the point to send the game to overtime.

Smith made consecutive spectacular saves early in the overtime and Crawford had one of his own, just getting his skate out while sprawled to prevent Vermette's hat trick.

Unlike the previous game, the Blackhawks got the win this time, thanks to a gritty play by Stalberg and a big shot by Bickell.

Notes: Coyotes C Martin Hanzal left in the first period with an undisclosed injury and didn't return. LW Lauri Korpikoski also went out in the third period. ... Phoenix had killed off 30 straight penalties before Bickell's goal in the first period. ... Chicago's Duncan Keith had an assist on Bollig's goal and leads Blackhawks defencemen with 30 points in 47 career playoff games.

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