Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
The Blackhawks scored a late, game-tying goal to force overtime. And then lost when Corey Crawford allowed a soft goal.
Heard enough? So have I.
Mikkel Boedker was credited with the game-winning overtime goal for the second straight game. Unlike Game Three, when Boedker shot the puck at the net, this time he lost control of the puck as he blew past Nick Leddy on a would-be breakaway. But it didn’t matter; the slow-moving puck still somehow beat Crawford five hole and ended another game.
The Coyotes were credited with one shot in the overtime period on Thursday night. It went in.
There are a number of areas that one can look at for issues that have contributed to the Coyotes 3-1 lead in the series, but ultimately it comes back to the man in net. Crawford has allowed overtime goals in consecutive games on weak shots that had no business getting past him. His comments in the locker room after the game, and the emotion on his face, indicated that he is well aware that he is personally responsible for the deficit the Hawks now face in the series.
And that is a problem.
Crawford has always been a confidence guy. When Ray Emery rented time on top of the depth chart this season, it was as much because Crawford was struggling mentally as it was because of physical mistakes.
Based on the ends of the last two games, and Crawford’s understandably emotional response to Thursday night’s finish, it is time for Emery to get back on the ice. Crawford’s series should be over… and, perhaps, his tenure as a goalie with the Chicago Blackhawks.
But saying Crawford is the only issue is misleading.
Chicago battled back from a 2-0 deficit late in the third period with goals from… wait for it… Brendan Morrison and Michael Frolik?
Frolik hadn’t scored since Dec. 14, but now has goals in consecutive playoff games. And Morrison, like Brandon Bollig in Game Two, scored his first goal as a member of the Hawks.
The Hawks have now scored 10 goals in the series. Frolik and Bryan Bickell have two each, while Bollig, Morrison, and Andrew Brunette have each scored once. The other three goals came from Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Sharp.
Sharp has just one goal on 17 shots on net. Viktor Stalberg has been credited with 15 shots and Dave Bolland credited with 19, and neither of them has scored. Bolland has three assists in the series.
The well-deserved lack of confidence Joel Quenneville has in his group of defensemen screamed out of the box score last night. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook each skated over 30 minutes; Nick Leddy skated just over 17 minutes, while Johnny Oduya and Niklas Hjalmarsson were each held to under 17 minutes in the game. Sean O’Donnell, back on the ice after Sami Lepisto and Dylan Olsen failed to win the sixth spot, played 10:06 in the game.
Oduya may have had his “Campoli Moment” as Thursday night.
That turnover appeared to happen in slow-motion, as most of the 300 level at the United Center was screaming at Oduya that Shane Doan was coming up behind him. But he didn’t sense Doan, turned the puck over, and the Coyotes captain deposited a fat rebound moments later.
He was very good after being acquired at the deadline during the regular season, but Oduya has been mediocre in the post season.
There might have been only two bright spots on the roster in Game Four.
Brandon Saad started the game on the Hawks’ top line with Toews and Brunette, and was on the Hawks’ first power play unit the entire night. Saad skated 13:11, of which 2:17 was on the power play, and he was credited with four hits. Unlike others on the roster, he never appeared to be overwhelmed by the moment.
And Bickell played his most physical game of the series. He was credited with a team-high seven hits in the game, many of which were noticeable.
Dating back into the regular season, the Hawks have now played in seven straight overtime games. They have only won two of those seven games.
Counting the end of the 2011 postseason, Chicago has also played in six straight overtime games in the postseason. The Hawks have only won two of those six games.
And they now head back to Phoenix facing three potential elimination games.