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Blackhawks Tue Apr 24 2012

Hawks Season Ends in Game 6 Loss

Chicago BlackhawksPhoenix didn't win Game 6. The Blackhawks out skated, outmaneuvered and out shot the Coyotes nearly two to one. Goaltender Mike Smith won Game 6.

The arena pulsed with excitement as the game commenced. If there was a Coyote fan in the crowd, they certainly didn't make themselves known. From the national anthem to puck drop and into the game the Mad House lived up to its name.

The team was likewise exhilarated. Marion Hossa, who was missing his third straight game due to an injury stemming from Raffi Torres' reckless hit in Game 3, stopped by the United Center earlier in the day to provide some encouragement for the team. The Hawks were also getting rookie forward Andrew Shaw back on the ice after being suspended for three games for a hit on Smith.

The Hawks got 11 shots off within the opening nine minutes of the game and ended the period with 16 shots to the Coyotes' two. Watching the first period anyone would put their money on a Blackhawks victory.

Still scoreless, the Hawks brought the same game to the second, dominating the Coyotes with deft maneuvering and playing in perfect sync. The Hawks had a near goal early on but Smith managed to cover the puck with his lower body - while his top half was wedged snuggly in the net along with a handful of other players.

Thirteen minutes into the second, the Coyotes took advantage of a power-play with Jonathan Toews out for interference. Every lose puck seemed to find their sticks and Oliver Ekman-Larsson sent a slap shot soaring past Corey Crawford to take the lead.

The Hawks are a come-back team though - fans weren't worried. Before long, resounding choruses of "Hossa" were being chanted throughout the United Center. Fueled by the crowd, the players seemed to increase their intensity and speed. Again, the Blackhawks were dominating and would have had a solid lead but for Smith's lightning reflexes.

In every other game of the series, the third period has been the rallying cry of the Hawks- picking up narrow ties for overtime in every match. Not so, in Game 6. Gilbert Brule put away an early goal, further securing the Coyotes' lead. A rough hit from Shaw left Coyotes defensman Michal Rozsival writhing on the ground in a good imitation of an injury and Shaw was given five minutes for boarding. The power-play resulted in a third goal for the Coyotes off Antoine Vermette.

The United Center crowd thinned as fans watched their team's season slowly die on the ice. A minute later a fourth goal came from Kyle Chipchura and the nail was in the coffin. A dejected team finished the last four minutes - still striving, and failing, to put something past Smith. For the second year in a row, the Hawks failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.

The remaining Hawks fans gave their team a standing ovation for a hard fought season. Phoenix will go on to face the Nashville Predators in round two. In the mean time, Chicago will hopefully rest, heal, and prepare for next season.

 
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