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
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,
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
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