By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will attempt to take a 2-0 series lead tonight when they host the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 of a Western Conference quarterfinal series at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 7 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix won Game 1 on Thursday - 3-2 in overtime - as the teams opened the series with a dramatic, fast-paced game that thrilled a sell-out crowd. Another full house is expected for Game 2 as the Coyotes try to take command of the series before it shifts to Chicago next week for Games 3 and 4.
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal
, who scored the game-winning goal on Thursday, said the Coyotes must not allow the Blackhawks to rebound in Game 2.
“The first (game), it’s past right now," Hanzal said after Friday's practice. "We’ve got to start thinking about a second (win) because you don’t win this series with one game.”
Goalie Mike Smith
, who has won six games in a row, will again start for Phoenix (see PODCASTS
below). Smith made 43 saves in Game 1. In four career NHL playoff games, Smith has stopped 93 of 97 shots.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett on Saturday told reporters that forward Radim Vrbata
, who suffered an upper-body injury in Game 1 that limited him to just two shifts, would play in Game 2. Vrbata scored 35 of the team's 216 goals (16.2 percent) in the regular season.
The Coyotes dominated the Blackhawks in many key categories in Game 1, including hits and blocked shots. Still, defenseman Adrian Aucoin
would like to see he and his teammates play better in Game 2.
“Winning Game 1 was obviously exciting for everyone here, but realistically we know we didn’t play our best," Aucoin said. "They played hard, we expect them to play a lot harder, so Game 2 is going to be even tougher.”
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews made a successful return from a concussion in Game 1 and practiced on Friday in an optional skate. Toews, who missed Chicago's last 22 games of the regular season, notched a goal and an assist in Game 1.
|Photo by Getty Images.
"I expected worse, and that's not to undershoot what happened," Toews said Friday when asked about the attention he received from the Coyotes in Game 1. "But I'm going to be at the net. I'm going to be right there in front of the goalie every whistle. Every chance they get they're going to take shots. I expected that and it's no big deal. I'm just happy with the way I dealt with it."
Corey Crawford is expected to be back in goal for the Blackhawks, as they look to steal home-ice advantage away from Phoenix with a win tonight.
Chicago Head Coach Joel Quenneville didn't like the outcome of Game 1, but he saw enough good things from his team to convince him they can win the series.
“There were some good stretches," Quenneville said. "I thought in the first and third we had some good periods, but at the end of the day we’re down 1-0 and we’ve come in here to win at least one game. And that’s what we’ve got to look for (Saturday) night.”