Boedker the hero again in Coyotes’ huge win

CHICAGO — Mikkel Boedker termed it more of a shove

than a shot. Goalie Mike Smith called it “Coyote ugly.” But on

Thursday at the United Center, beauty came in the form of a second consecutive

overtime winner.

After blowing a late lead for the third time in four games in this Western

Conference quarterfinal series, the Coyotes scored just 2 minutes and 15

seconds into overtime to post a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks and grab a

commanding 3-1 lead in the series, with Game 5 scheduled for Saturday in Glendale,

Ariz.

With Chicago defenseman Sean O’Donnell already caught too deep in the Phoenix

zone, Boedker tipped the puck away from defenseman Nick Leddy in the neutral

zone and raced in on a partial breakaway, beating goalie Corey Crawford between

the legs for his second overtime winner in as many games.

“Your eyes get a little big when you see a bobbled puck and the D-man is

pinching down on it,” Boedker said. “It wasn’t much of a move, but

they all count the same.”

Boedker is the first player to score consecutive overtime goals in the

postseason since Colorado’s Joe Sakic did it against San Jose on April 28 and

May 1, 2004. That he was the one to deliver in both of the last games was

fitting for a team that has relied on depth all season to overcome a lack of

star power. But it also came as a mild surprise for a player whose greatest

issue has been his inability to finish.

“Every player wants to get points,” coach Dave Tippett said.

“Their friends all text them and everything is good. The one thing with

Boeds — we’ve had to stay on him and say, ‘You have an effect on the game even

if you don’t score, if you’re doing things right.'”

Boedker has done all of those things. He’s sound positionally, he’s sound

defensively, he makes good decisions with the puck, he works hard and he’s as

humble a player as you will find in this league. But when you’re drafted eighth

overall (2008), big things are expected.

“It doesn’t happen overnight. With some guys you have to be a little more

patient,” Boedker said. “I’ve had some rough ups and downs this

season and Tip and those guys have stayed with me.”

Boedker has always had blazing speed — an asset that was on display on

Thursday’s winning goal and all season long when he took shootout attempts. But

he spent a lot of time after practice working with assistant John Anderson on

finishing around the net.

He had 11 goals in 82 games, but general manager Don Maloney made it clear he

wanted more, all but calling Boedker out earlier in the season.

“I don’t think I was as bad as maybe it looked because I wasn’t

scoring,” Boedker said. “But I knew they wanted more.”

Boedker got an opportunity in Games 3 and 4 with wing Lauri Korpikoski out of

the lineup due to an undisclosed injury. He made the most of that increased

playing time on a line with Boyd Gordon and Taylor Pyatt.  

“I was bugging Korpikoski,” Tippett said, smiling. “He might

have just lost his spot on that line.”

The only other time the Coyotes have led a series 3-1 since moving to the

Valley came in 1999, when they fell to St. Louis in seven games. Judging by the

first four games of this series, closing out the Blackhawks will be equally

difficult.

Thursday’s extra session marked the first time since 1951 (Toronto-Montreal)

that a playoff series has opened with four straight overtimes.

“It feels like we’ve played the fifth game,” Tippett quipped.

But in a season in which the Coyotes captured the franchise’s first division

title, no challenge appears too daunting. The club is resilient. The club is

deep and, as Boedker showed on Thursday, the faces are interchangeable.

“You can go right through our lineup,” captain Shane Doan said.

“Everybody expects to contribute and score.”

Phoenix is on the verge of its first playoff series win since moving to

Arizona. But don’t expect that reality to alter this group’s demeanor.

“We’re not going to change a thing,” Doan said. “It’s that same

business approach that’s made us successful, and that’s what you’ll see on

Saturday.”