Hawks Hope to Take Advantage of Home-ice Advantage
OT victory Saturday evens series with Coyotes, with Game three and four at United Center.
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Bryan Bickell’s goal in overtime Saturday night not only capped the Hawks’ scintillating 4-3 victory over the Coyotes in Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinal series in Glendale, Ariz., it also significantly altered the course of the best-of-seven series. Instead of entering Game 3 on Tuesday night at the United Center down two games to none, the Hawks pulled even.
“It’s a huge difference,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “Especially (with us) winning the second game. Now we’re going home with a lot of momentum and excitement. We’re looking forward to playing in our own building. (Home ice) is something (that) once you get it, you can’t let it go.”
That came on the heels of Seabrook tying Game 1 with 14.2 seconds remaining in the third before the Coyotes pulled out a 3-2 win in overtime. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the first time in NHL postseason history a team has scored tying goals with 15 seconds or less remaining in regulation in consecutive games.
The Game 2 defeat was a damaging blow to Phoenix, but certainly not a knock-out punch to the Pacific Division winners.
“As ugly and as painful as it looks, we all realize it’s one game,” Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. “We thought it was going to be a long series and it’s going to be a long series. You never want to give a game away the way we did, but at the same time it’s just one game and we have to go in there and win one of theirs.”
Added teammate Antoine Vermette: “When you win, you’re feeling pretty good, and then I think a key in the playoffs is managing your emotions. We’ve got to look ahead and go there and regroup and have some good games over there.”
The Hawks will attempt to seize the opportunity to put the Coyotes on the ropes by taking care of business at home, where they were 27-8-6 during the regular season.
“We’re excited to go home for Game 3 with our fans in our building,” Sharp said. “We learn in the playoffs every year that the next game’s always the biggest.”
On the flip side, Phoenix went 20-14-7 away from home during the 2011-12 campaign.
“We have confidence in our team on the road,” Doan said. “We know how to play the game.”
The two-day break between Games 2 and 3 will give Hawks coaches Joel Quenneville and the Coyotes’ Dave Tippett time to ponder adjustments to their lineups. Quenneville tinkered with the lines during Game 2, breaking up the No. 1 trio of Toews, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa by sending Kane to the second line as a center where he was between Hossa and Andrew Brunette. Meanwhile, Toews centered for Sharp and Viktor Stalberg.
“Getting Kane in the middle, he picked it up,” Quenneville said. “We have more balance in that. I didn’t really like changing too much in the lines going into this playoffs, and that line with Kane and Hossa and Jonathan was pretty good the first game.
“I think we got a little bit more with those two guys playing center, different looks and something to think about for (the Coyotes).”