GLENDALE – The Coyotes and Blackhawks certainly are spoiling fans of the Stanley Cup Playoffs with “free hockey” as all five of the first five games of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series required an overtime period to decide the outcome.
On Saturday, the teams again needed extra time to decide the winner of Game 5 at Jobing.com Arena. Chicago captain Jonathan Toews scored the decisive goal at 2:44 to shave Phoenix’s lead in the best-of-seven series to 3-2.
Only one other time has a series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs needed overtime in each of the first five games to decide the outcome. That series was the 1951 Stanley Cup Final showdown between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, which Toronto won 4-1.
To help put this phenomena into perspective consider this: Forget any of the players, neither head coach in this series – Dave Tippett nor Joel Quenneville – was alive the last time this occurred.
Coyotes forward Gilbert Brule
, who is playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time this season, is among those amazed by what has unfolded.
“This is my first playoff experience and to go to overtime every single game is pretty crazy,” Brule said. “It’s an exciting way to finish a hockey game, for sure.”
For those counting, the teams have played nearly two extra periods (38:19) over the first five games of this series.
• With Game 6 set for Monday night in Chicago, the Coyotes did not practice on Sunday and flew back to the Windy City in the early afternoon. They will have a full morning skate on Monday at the United Center.
Phoenix will undoubtedly enter Game 6 brimming with confidence having beaten the Blackhawks four times in a row at the United Center this season, and six of eight overall dating to 2009.
“We’re going to go up there and battle,” Tippett said. “We need one win to win the series. They came out and played a very good game (in Game 5), and I thought we could have done some things a lot better but it was still a tight, tight game. We’re going up there with the same mind-set. We’re going to have to play a tight game and find a way to win one.”
Although they have a one-game lead in the series, defenseman Keith Yandle
said he and his teammates would approach the game as if it’s even.
“You want to close it out as soon as possible,” Yandle said. “We’ve got to play it like it’s a Game 7.”
• Talk about doing the little things well; the Coyotes are leading the Stanley Cup Playoffs in penalty killing (94.1 percent) and hits (209), rank second in blocked shots (109) and rank fifth in face-off winning percentage (52.1 percent).
EDITOR'S NOTE: Contact Dave Vest at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @davest4yotes.