Refusing to wilt not from the desert heat but from that of a suffocating Coyotes defense, the Hawks rallied to a 2-1 overtime victory in Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals Saturday night at Jobing.com Arena in Glendale, Ariz.
Jonathan Toews scored the game-winner in OT -- every game in the series has gone beyond regulation -- and Nick Leddy had a goal midway through the third to lift a Hawks team that found a sense of desperation as their season teetered on the brink of extinction.
"That's got to say something about our character and what we're able to do, especially against a team that late in games they're so good at protecting leads and playing smart defensively," said Toews, who beat Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith with a wrist shot from the right circle 2 minutes, 44 seconds into overtime to end it. "Going into that third period we reminded ourselves that we've done it multiple times in this series win or lose that we're going to find a way to come back and we did.
"This overtime period, especially, we had that feeling that this was our game and we would go out there and take it," Toews added. "They haven't given us much this series but we weren't going to be denied."
Goaltender Corey Crawford exorcised some demons by out-dueling Smith to erase the memory of consecutive overtime defeats.
"(Saturday night) was probably our best game defensively this series," said Crawford, who made 18 saves. "Everybody was back and we were in shooting lanes. We just didn't give them a lot."
Crawford allowed a second-period goal to Gilbert Brule but that was it as the Hawks earned the win despite the absence of leading scorer Marian Hossa, who remains sidelined following a vicious hit from Raffi Torres is Game 3.
"We want to feel like this game is a turning point for us in the series," Toews said. "We've got a lot of momentum. We're going home and we have to be excited for that. This series is far from over and we're not going to give them anything easily. For myself, I just had a feeling that something good was going to happen."
Phoenix took the lead early in the second on Brule's goal off an odd-man rush created when Hawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson pinched in deep. Brule raced into the zone and rifled a shot from the right circle that roared past Crawford to the glove side.
In the third, Leddy evened it at 1-1 when the defenseman fired a shot from the point that eluded Smith as Hawks center Dave Bolland cruised through the slot to provide a screen.
"We've come back in four out of five now ... and we've been playing great," Leddy said. "Just a few bounces haven't gone our way. We played great (Saturday night) and we'll have to play great next game."
The Hawks peppered Smith with 38 shots, but had limited quality scoring chances as the Coyotes also filled shooting lanes. The visitors kept the pressure on and finally solved the stingy goalie to force Game 6.
"We played hard the whole way through," defenseman Duncan Keith said. "It's tough when you end up being behind a goal and you feel like you're dictating most of the play. We stuck with it like we have throughout the past and finished it off in overtime.
"We did what we wanted to do here -- get a win and take it back to Chicago," Keith added. "We're going to need the same kind of effort and even better effort in Chicago."
They Coyotes will try and rebound from their second defeat at home to the Hawks this series and close it out on Monday night.
"We give them credit," Coyotes captain Shane Doan said. "They came here and beat us. We're pretty comfortable playing on the road (so) we're going to go out there and find a way to win."