By Dave Vest
The Coyotes will try to close out their Western Conference Quarterfinal series with the Chicago Blackhawks tonight when they play Game 6 at Jobing.com Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. (Arizona time).
Phoenix, which leads the best-of-seven series three games to two, will 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.
"I think the games are all so tight," Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett said. "It doesn't really matter where you play. It's going to come down to who can actually make a good play at the right time."
He added, "It's just so tight. When one team's down, the desperation level goes up. I think you saw it on the road when our two games went to overtime. Our desperation level went up, too. That's just the ebb and flow of the game."
will start in goal for the Coyotes as they try, for a second time, to clinch the first-round series and advance to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since moving to Phoenix from Winnipeg in 1996.
"Obviously, I'd like to get out of the first round of the playoffs, I mean everyone does," said Coyotes captain Shane Doan
, the only player left from the team that moved to Phoenix from Winnipeg. "We have a great chance and we've got to find a way... I'd much rather be in the position we're in (ahead 3-2)."
Coyotes center Martin Hanzal
, who hasn't played in this series since suffering an injury in Game 2, skated with teammates at Monday's morning skate and may return to the lineup tonight.
Phoenix will enter the game leading the Stanley Cup Playoffs in penalty killing (94.1 percent), and ranked third in hits (209), third in face-off winning percentage (52.1 percent) and fourth in blocked shots (109).
|Photo by Getty Images.
The Blackhawks will be looking to even the series and force a Game 7 at Jobing.com Arena on Wednesday night.
"This series is far from over and we're not going to give them anything easily," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said.
Forward Andrew Shaw, who hasn't played since being suspended for three games for checking Smith in the head in Game 2, will be back in the lineup.
Because the first five games of this series have all been overtime games, Chicago's top defensive pair – Duncan Keith (31:14) and Brent Seabrook (31:00) – are averaging more than 30 minutes a game.
“I think they’re a good hockey club," Seabrook said of the Coyotes. "They play well. They do the little things and they don’t get caught up in anything else... We’ve just got to worry about ourselves and try to come out with a strong effort.”
Corey Craword is expected to start in goal for Chicago.