Wed, Apr 25, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Coyotes blank Blackhawks to set up Predators series

AFP, CHICAGO

Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan, left, and Antoine Vermette, right, celebrate their team’s fourth goal next to Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford in Game 6 of their NHL playoff series in Chicago, Illinois, on Monday.

Photo: Reuters

Gilbert Brule and Kyle Chipchura each had a goal and an assist as the Phoenix Coyotes clinched their first playoff series since relocating from Winnipeg with a 4-0 victory over Chicago on Monday.

Linemates Brule and Chipchura combined to score third-period goals and goaltender Mike Smith recorded a shutout for the Coyotes, who captured the opening round playoff series 4-2.

The Coyotes had not won a playoff series since relocating from Winnipeg, Canada, to the Arizona desert prior to the 1996-1997 NHL season.

“This is the first step,” Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. “We want to enjoy this moment because it hasn’t happened to us for a long time.”

The last time the franchise made it into the second round of the post-season was 25 years ago when the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Calgary Flames.

Phoenix advance to face the Nashville Predators, who beat Detroit in five games.

The sixth-seeded Blackhawks and Phoenix went to overtime in each of the first five games of the best-of-seven series, tying a playoff series record set during the 1951 Stanley Cup finals between the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs.

For a while it looked like the teams could be headed to overtime for the sixth straight game as Phoenix led 1-0 heading into the final period, before the Coyotes blew the game open with three unanswered goals in the third.

Brule, who scored Phoenix’s lone goal in a Game 5 loss on Saturday, scored the Coyotes’ first goal of the third to make it 2-0. Brule was left all alone in front of the Chicago net as the Blackhawks suffered from several defensive lapses in their own zone which led to Phoenix goals.

Antoine Vermette made it 3-0 at 13 minutes, 4 seconds and then just 1:52 later Brule set up Chipchura for the final goal of the contest. defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson also scored for Phoenix.

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2010, the Blackhawks have now been eliminated in the first round in each of the past two post-seasons.

“We didn’t get the bounces we needed to win the game tonight,” Chicago captain Jonathan Toews said.

Chicago, who failed to win a single game on home ice in the series, outshot the Coyotes 16-2 in the opening period, but they could not dent Phoenix goalie Smith, who finished with 39 saves on the night.

“They came at us hard, but we managed to weather the storm,” Smith said. “The shutout is a bonus. We have grown a lot as a group, and we have to keep improving and finding ways to win games Coyotes’ style.”

“A big thank you to Smitty. He is unbelievable. We are going to go as far as he can take us,” Doan said.

RANGERS 3, SENATORS 2

Reuters

The top-seeded New York Rangers exploded for three goals in the second period, before fending off a late Ottawa rally to force a Game 7 decider in their Eastern Conference first-round playoff series on Monday.

One day after the West top seeds Vancouver were dumped from the playoffs, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards and Chris Kreider scored unanswered second-period goals to overturn a 1-0 deficit and even up the best-of-seven series at 3-3.

“[Tonight] is the way we need to play and that’s the way we’re going to continue to play,” Stepan told reporters after adding two assists in the triumph.

New York’s rousing second-period effort gave them a two-goal advantage, but Ottawa raised their intensity in the third and powered home a contentious goal from Jason Spezza with 39 seconds remaining, but ultimately they came up short.

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