Hawks go down in overtime again
The sigh came more from bewilderment than anything else.
Before Jonathan Toews set out to explain the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Coyotes in Game 4 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Thursday night, the captain let out a big breath.
And then he tried to make sense of things.
"It sure doesn't feel like we're down 3-1 in the series," Toews said moments after watching Mikkel Boedker score the game-winner to put the Hawks' season on the brink with Game 5 of the best-of-seven series scheduled for Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz.
"Every game has been close. (Thursday night), especially, it's a little disappointing. We played well enough to win but it never really felt like we took control of that game at any point."
Like they have all series, the Hawks needed late heroics to send the game into overtime. Each of the contests has gone past 60 minutes, the first time that has happened since 1951 when the Canadiens and Maple Leafs did it.
This time, the Hawks battled back from 2-0 deficit midway through the third period and for the third occasion in the series scored with a sixth attacker on the ice after goaltender Corey Crawford had vacated the net. Michael Frolik did the honors Thursday to send the crowd of 22,111 at the United Center into a frenzy.
But for the second consecutive game, Boedker sent the Hawks home unhappy when he found a way to get the puck past Crawford, this time 2 minutes, 15 seconds into the extra period.
"Maybe it could be 3-1 for us right now but it's not," a dejected Crawford said. "We just have to keep playing hard and keep playing the way we are and eventually it's going to go our way."
Not much of anything went the Hawks' way the first 2 1/2 periods as they fell behind on Shane Doan and Taylor Pyatt goals just 44 seconds apart in the third. The Hawks rallied late as Brendan Morrison and Frolik scored against Coyotes goalie Mike Smith to force another overtime.
"It seems like we get more motivated when we go down a goal or two and we see how well we can play and how much pressure we can put on them," Toews said. "We seem to be less afraid to make mistakes."
The Hawks were playing without leading scorer Marian Hossa, who remains sidelined following a hit from the Coyotes' Raffi Torres in Game 3. Without the veteran, the offense sputtered until getting goals from players who combined for five (all by Frolik) during the regular season.
"It's a tough road ahead of us," coach Joel Quenneville said. "You want to look at the smaller picture and pick ourselves up after a tough ending and fly into Phoenix (on Friday) and get ourselves excited again. We're certainly disappointed and not happy with the way we played. There are certain guys who have to pick up their game."
After taking the commanding edge in the series, the Coyotes have a chance to advance playing in front of their home crowd.
"The fourth (victory) is the hardest" Doan said. "They have shown so much heart and character already, we know how hard it's going to be."