Antoine Vermette lifts Coyotes to shootout win over Blackhawks
The Arizona Coyotes were delighted to pull out a win by the narrowest of margins.
Antoine Vermette scored in regulation and netted the deciding goal in the third round of the shootout to lift Arizona to a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night.
Lucas Lessio also connected in the shootout, and Arizona's Shane Doan scored in regulation to help the Coyotes snap a two-game losing streak. Oliver Ekman-Larsson assisted on both of Arizona's goals.
But this one barely made it to the tiebreaker, thanks to a wild finish in overtime.
''We'll take it as a break and move on,'' Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. ''Entertainment at its finest right there.''
Chicago goalie Antti Raanta had to make a point-blank save on Doan, who skated in alone with 30 seconds left in overtime following a Chicago turnover.
With 16 seconds remaining, Arizona's Mike Smith got a piece of a shot by Chicago's Andrew Shaw. The puck trickled away from him and almost slid completely across the goal line before it was cleared.
As play continued, Brandon Saad hit the crossbar with a shot seconds later.
The action didn't stop until the overtime period expired. Shaw's shot then went to a video review, and an overhead angle didn't conclusively show that the puck crossed the line.
Replays showed the puck just inches shy of going over the line.
''I heard it was so close our video guy really couldn't say,'' Tippett said. ''Looking at it, that's probably as close as you can get without having a goal, right there.''
Smith finished with 36 saves through overtime, then was beaten only by Patrick Kane in the shootout.
He was especially happy to be credited with a stop on Shaw's tricky shot from the left circle - then lunge along with a pile of teammates to keep the puck out of the net.
''It was the biggest scramble of this season, for sure, by me,'' Smith said. ''I couldn't believe the spin the puck had to get there, but it was kind of desperation.
''It was too close to tell from my angle. Obviously, we got a break and won the shootout.''
Chicago's Marian Hossa scored two goals for the second straight game, and Jonathan Toews set up both. Hossa recorded Chicago's final two goals in a 4-2 win at St. Louis on Sunday. Before this run, he had just two goals in 15 games.
Hossa's second goal on Monday, with 7:42 left in the third, sent it to overtime.
''He was good, and scoring obviously last night helped him there,'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. ''That line got a little more production tonight off of, probably, feeling good.''
But it wasn't quite enough to allow the Blackhawks to earn two points.
''Well, we'll take a point, when you're down particularly late in the third period,'' Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. ''We've done a pretty good job this year of getting it to overtime and finding a way to get the extra one.
''Tonight, we couldn't have come any closer.''
Raanta finished with 27 saves, but stopped only one of three shots in the shootout.
The Blackhawks came out flat as they skated at home for the first time in three weeks following a seven-game trip that concluded with a pair of key intra-division wins, at Winnipeg on Friday, and Sunday over the Blues.
Chicago went 4-3 on the long swing, sandwiched around the All-Star break. The Blackhawks routed the Coyotes 6-1 in their last game at the United Center on Jan. 20.
Hossa put Chicago ahead 1-0 with 7:16 left in the second and one-timed a shot from just outside the crease. Toews shoveled a backhanded pass from the right corner in front, and Hossa buried the puck past Smith.
Doan was credited with a power-play deflection that tied it 1-1 with 2:37 remaining in the period. With Kane sitting for unsportsmanlike conduct, Keith Yandle's drive from the top of the right circle ticked off Doan, who was tied up with Keith in front of the crease.
The Coyotes took a 2-1 lead on Vermette's deflection at 3:59 of the third after the Blackhawks failed to clear the puck from their zone. Ekman-Larsson's low shot from the left point struck Vermette's stick near the hashmarks, then fluttered over Raanta's shoulder.
But Hossa struck again with 7:42 left in the third to tie it 2-2.
NOTES: Blackhawks F Kris Versteeg, out since Jan. 1 with a fractured left hand that required surgery, could return on Wednesday against Vancouver, Quenneville said. Versteeg was having a resurgent season before the injury, playing on a line with Kane and Brad Richards, and posting nine goals and 18 assists in 34 games. ... In a moment of silence before the game, the Blackhawks honored (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald beat writer Mike Spellman and senior off-ice official Paul Ruck, who had been with the team since 1952. ... Arizona C Martin Hanzal (six games) and C Joe Vitale (seven games) remained out with upper-body injuries.