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Sunday, March 3

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Blackhawks Sun Apr 22 2012

Game 5 OT Win Keeps Hawks in the Series

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngGoing into Game 5, the Phoenix lead the series 3-1, putting Chicago in a tight spot. They had to win, or call it a season. Meanwhile, the match up came on the heels of the announcement of Raffi Torres' punishment for his vicious hit on Marion Hossa in Game 3. Much to the delight of retribution-seeking Chicago fans, Torres was dealt a 25-game suspension, which will carry into the next season. Until he serves his 25 games, Torres will not be able to participate in pre-season games and will forfeit $21,341 in salary for every regular-season game he sits out.

This is the longest suspension in the NHL since 2007 when New York Islanders forward Chris Simon was given 30 games for stomping on the leg of Jarko Ruutu, and the longest ever in the playoffs. Torres' history of violence and unsportsmanlike performance contributed to the sentence.

Though both sides were suffering wounds both physical and personal, the players kept their heads, or were at least on their best behavior, delivering a game with just a handful of penalties, and no significant fighting.

The first period saw a flurry of shots on goal. The Hawks out-shot the Coyotes 12 to 4, but left the score board empty. Phoenix goalie Mike Smith was on form and seemed an impenetrable force in the net.

In the second period, things got serious for the Hawks when Gilbert Brule put a clean slap shot past Corey Crawford, marking his first NHL playoff goal. The intensity jumped to a new level as Phoenix fans pounded the glass, sure that they were watching the game that would end the series. However, Chicago fans have learned to stay in the stands until the whistle blows.

Sure enough, defenseman Nick Leddy slammed the puck through the crowded goal past Smith to tie the game in the third. With half a period left, Chicago was given its second wind and the Coyotes knew the series was being sincerely threatened. Despite two power play opportunities, the Hawks couldn't get the puck in the net.

The game went into overtime where the Coyotes have had the advantage during this series, typically putting soft shots past Crawford. Phoenix was preparing for climactic finale. However, Jonathan Toews took the wind out of the arena when not three minutes in, he slipped a shot past Smith for the win.

The Blackhawks will come home for Game 6 on Monday night. They're still down in the series, so this is a must win game as well. But the Hawks have shown their mettle. They will do all they can to deliver a playoff victory in the Mad House.

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