By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in their best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals matchup with the Blackhawks tonight when they play Game 4 at the United Center in Chicago. The puck drops at 5 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix took a 2-1 lead in the series on Tuesday when it rallied to beat Chicago, 3-2 in overtime, and re-captured home-ice advantage.
, who stopped 124 of 132 shots in the first three games, will start in goal for the Coyotes, who are 3-0 at the United Center this season.
The Coyotes will play minus center Martin Hanzal
and left wing Lauri Korpikoski
. Both players were injured in Game 2 and didn’t play in Game 3. Phoenix also will play without left wing Raffi Torres
, whom the NHL on Wednesday suspended indefinitely for a hit on Chicago forward Marian Hossa in Game 3.
Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said his team is prepared to keep playing despite the hits to the roster.
“The one thing our group is very focused on is making sure it doesn’t overshadow everything,” Tippett said. “We’re a focused group… Our focus is on what we have to do to play better in Game 4.
Forward Mikkel Boedker
, who scored the game-winning goal in Game 3, said he likes the way the Coyotes have played thus far in the series.
“It’s been a physical series and a hard-played series,” Boedker said. “They’ve got skilled guys and we just try to limit their chances and play on our chances, and so far I think we’ve done that.”
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Blackhawks will be looking to even the series before it shifts back to Arizona for Game 5 on Saturday.
“Every game has been tight,” Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s been back and forth, everybody’s trying to hold on to a one-goal lead… But we think that’s what we have to play, a patient game. And try to be able to protect the lead when we do have it, we’d love to enhance it, but we’re not going to get a ton of scoring chances, and we don’t want to give up much.”
Goaltender Corey Crawford, who blamed himself for allowing a "terrible" goal by Boedker in overtime of Game 3, will be back in net for Chicago.
Hossa, who had no goals or assists in the first three games before being injured on the hit by Torres, will not play tonight. Taking his place will be 19-year old Brandon Saad. The Blackhawks selected Saad with the 43rd overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft last June.