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DDB: Series has tied record for ‘Free Hockey’

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:
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
thedesertdogblog@phoenixcoyotes.com
and follow him on
Twitter @davest4yotes.

For information on upcoming Phoenix Coyotes games, please
visit http://coyotes.nhl.com