CHICAGO (AP) — David Schlemko got a chance to preserve the Coyotes’ fading playoff hopes, and he came through.
Mikkel Boedker and Schlemko scored in the shootout to lift Phoenix to a 3-2 victory over Chicago on Saturday night, snapping the Coyotes’ three-game losing streak and keeping them within range of the final Western Conference postseason berth.
Schlemko, a defenseman taking the first shootout attempt of his career, beat Corey Crawford with a high wrist shot for the deciding score in the third round of the tiebreaker to end Chicago’s seven-game winning streak.
“I finally got a chance, so I figured I’d better bury it,” Schlemko said. “We’re fighting for our lives. That extra point is huge, and I think we deserve it.
With four games remaining, the 11th-place Coyotes moved three points behind the Blue Jackets for the eighth and last playoff spot in the West. Detroit is one point behind Columbus, and Dallas is another point back, one ahead of Phoenix. The Blue Jackets have three games left while the Red Wings and Stars have four remaining.
Patrick Kane had the lone shootout goal for Chicago against Mike Smith.
Rostislav Klesla and Radim Vrbata scored in the first period for Phoenix.
Smith made 36 saves through overtime in his return after missing two games with a lower-body injury. He frustrated the Blackhawks last season in the opening round of the playoffs, when Phoenix defeated Chicago in six games.
Smith was sharp again Saturday and a big reason the Coyotes pulled out the win. He was at his best in the first period, when Chicago outshot Phoenix 16-9 but entered the intermission trailing 2-1.
“He was huge,” Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said. “They went with the (Jonathan) Toews lines and put some good pressure on us. … We were kind of laughing after the first period. We needed to get Smitty into the game early, and he got into the game early.”
Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook scored two power-play goals in regulation for his first two-goal game this season and the second of his career. Crawford had 29 saves through overtime.
Despite the loss, league-leading Chicago has points in 11 straight games (9-0-2). With 73 points overall, the Blackhawks are five ahead of the Penguins in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy. Both teams have four games left.
The Blackhawks were 2 for 4 on the power play after ending a string of 20 unsuccessful power-play chances over nine games on Friday night against the Predators. An underperforming power play has been one of the few glitches for Chicago during the lockout-shortened regular season. The Blackhawks are trying to tune it for the playoffs.
“A couple of good shots by (Seabrook), a couple of good plays,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “Both (power-play) units were doing some good things, so it’s nice to see.”
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville also liked his team’s play with the man advantage, adding, “I thought we had good motion and good movement, good options. It’s nice to see some finished product.”
Even if they had to settle for just one point Saturday.
“We have a lot of confidence we can win those tight games, but sometimes it doesn’t go your way,” Toews added. “We’re more happy with the way we played then the result, obviously. We’ll take the good things from it, and we’re going on the road this week so we’ll try and bounce back quick.”
The Blackhawks dominated early, but Smith came up big with several close-in saves, including point-blank stops on Toews and Brandon Saad to keep it scoreless.
Seabrook finally put Chicago ahead 1-0 with a power-play goal on a high screened shot with 8:40 left in the first. He fired from the top of the left circle with Chicago’s Andrew Shaw and Phoenix’s Zbynek Michalek tussling in front of the crease.
The Blackhawks’ momentum ended abruptly 46 seconds later, when Klesla tied it a 1-all on a bouncing dump-in from center ice. Klesla lobbed the puck toward the net from the left wing boards near the red line. Crawford dropped to his knees, and the puck bounded over him on a short hop.
“It’s just a bad bounce,” Crawford said. “There’s nothing I can do about it now.”
Vrbata then gave the energized Coyotes a 2-1 lead with 5:20 left in the period, beating Crawford from the bottom of the left circle on with traffic in front of the net.
Seabrook had the only goal in the second, tying it at 2 at 3:39 into the period with his second power-play score. Kane skated into the corner with his back to the play but took a quick look over his shoulder and slipped a backhand pass to Seabrook, who had pinched into the left circle. Seabrook was wide open, ripped a shot past Smith and then celebrated his hot goal-scoring hand by blowing on his glove.
Both goalies made sharp saves early in the scoreless third, and Chicago’s Marcus Kruger fired wide on an excellent chance about 5 minutes into the period.
Early in overtime, Smith made a lunging glove save on Seabrook, then a quick stop on Toews to help force it to the shootout.
NOTES: Chicago G Ray Emery sat out his second game with a lower-body injury, so Carter Hutton backed up Crawford. … Blackhawks LW Patrick Sharp (upper body) and D Michal Rozsival (upper body) also were scratches. Before the game, however, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he expected the team would travel to Vancouver for Monday’s game with the Canucks with a full roster. … Phoenix D Derek Morris sat out with a lower-body injury and is day-to-day. … The United Center crowd of the 22,272 was the Blackhawks’ largest this season.