Once is a fluke. Twice is a coincidence. And if it happens three times, you have to call it a trend.
The Blackhawks last three postseason games have been truly down to the wire, with the team forcing overtime in each one with just a few seconds left in regulation. Its been frenzied, scrambling, desperate last-minute work for the Blackhawks, who keep finding ways to play longer postseason games.
Its Blackhawks playoff hockey, sponsored by Bayer, for the near cardiac event it causes.
Its kind of comparable; weve had three straight playoff games in the same fashion on the road, coach Joel Quenneville said after Saturday nights 4-3 overtime victory over the Phoenix Coyotes, which tied their Western Conference quarterfinal series at 1-1. We had momentum going into overtime and we loved to cash in.
Brent Seabrook joked that the Blackhawks were just trying to beat our time from the last game by a bit.
Indeed, they have slowly inched their way toward zero in each of their last three postseason road games. Jonathan Toews scored a shorthanded goal with 1:56 left in regulation an eternity compared to the Blackhawks last two games -- in Game 7 vs. Vancouver last spring. Seabrooks tying goal in Game 1 came with 14.2 seconds remaining and Patrick Sharps deflection in Game 2 was with 5.5 seconds left.
In both games the Blackhawks had an empty net at the other end. And as overtime began on Saturday, some fans on Twitter joked that the team should start the extra time with the same setup.
The Blackhawks were feeling the last-second excitement.
It was kind of fun there in the last minute, six guys moving the puck pretty well, said Sharp. We had a few chances to score and I knew Seabs was going to pound it. I dont know if Ive ever seen that before, back to back games forcing overtime (that late). Were thankful we seized the opportunity.
Yes, the Blackhawks worked hard to get those late chances and those late tying goals. But as exhilarating as those endings are, the Blackhawks need to make things a little easier on themselves in future games. That push, that drive to the net needs to be as evident with 20 minutes left in the third as it is with 20 seconds.
Playoff hockey is always tight. The Blackhawks dont have to make it any tighter.
Its always scary when its that extra attacker. You never know with the empty net, Dave Bolland said. But the guys we have out there are capable of doing some damage. We didnt want to wait for that 5.5 left to tie the game.