Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 4/22/12
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- There must be something about late-game pressure at Jobing.com Arena that brings out the best in the Chicago Blackhawks. First it was goals in the final seconds of Games 1 and 2 to rise from the dead and force overtime. The Blackhawks capitalized on one of those opportunities to avoid falling into a 2-0 hole in their Western Conference first-round series. In Game 5 on Saturday night, though, it wasn't just a loss the Blackhawks avoided. It was the end of their season that was avoided, at least temporarily, with a 2-1 win, as an overtime goal from captain Jonathan Toews allowed Chicago to stay alive and force a Game 6 back in Chicago on Monday. "That overtime period especially, we had that feeling that this was our game, and we're going to go out there and take it," Toews said. "They haven't given us much this series, but tonight we weren't going to be denied." Toews didn't need long to deliver on that feeling, as he won a face-off, freed the puck from a scrum along the boards and fired a shot past Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith's stick at the 17:16 mark to suck whatever air was left out of the arena. The crowd, eagerly anticipating the Coyotes' first playoff series win since coming to Phoenix from Winnipeg, had been quieted in the third period by Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy, though his third period goal didn't come in the very last moments as did those in the series' first two games. With the Coyotes a little more than nine minutes from franchise history, Leddy took advantage of center Dave Bolland's screen to fire a shot past Smith from just inside the blue line. "I just tried getting it on net, and it went in," Leddy said. "We've come back almost every time in the third period, and we've been really strong in the third period." There's little left to say about the Blackhawks' resiliency. They've now overcome third-period deficits in four the series' five games, all of which have gone to overtime. The only other time in NHL history that a playoff series went to overtime in the first five games was when Toronto and Montreal met in 1951. "That's got to say something about our character and what we're able to do," Toews said. "Tonight, going into that third period, we reminded ourselves that we've done it multiple times in this series. Win or lose, we're going to find a way to come back -- and we did." That the Blackhawks used Saturday's game to claw their way back into the series, which Phoenix still leads 3-2, comes as no surprise. They faced similar circumstances last season after falling into a 3-0 series hole to the Vancouver Canucks but responded with three straight wins to force a decisive Game 7, which they lost -- in overtime, of course -- to the eventual Western Conference champs. The Blackhawks, however, aren't concerned with what happened last year. They're just focused on surviving Game 6. "We're not going to compare," defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "I think we feel good where we are right now. It was a big win. ... It was a good day for us, and we're happy with the win. We're just going to keep going." Several Blackhawks called Saturday's win a momentum swing, though they said the same of their Game 2 win before losing the next two games at home. How this win affects the series going forward remains to be seen. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville called Saturday's game the best his team has played in the entire series. It's evident he believes they've found a rhythm at the right time, even short a top forward in Marian Hossa, who was knocked out of Game 3 by Raffi Torres' suspension-inducing hit and remains unlikely to return in the playoffs. "Going into today's game, one of the things we were trying to stress was we still haven't played our best yet," Quenneville said. "I think there's another level we've got to get, and when we get it it's going to feel great, taste great. I think that we're getting there, and I think (tonight) was a major step in that direction." The Coyotes have won four straight games at the United Center, so the Blackhawks certainly can't just lean on home-ice advantage in Game 6. Instead, they'll rely once again on the resiliency and one-game-at-a-time approach that's kept them alive thus far. "We're thinking going into any game, whether it was tonight or the next one, that the series is far from over," Toews said. "We're not going to give them anything easily."
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