Mike Smith Shakes Off Violent Hit; Coyotes Maintain Lead

Game 2 of the Phoenix Coyotes-Chicago Blackhawks NHL playoff series was the Coyotes' to lose after two periods, because a momentum-swinging major penalty in the second period led to the Coyotes taking a second lead, this one at 3-2.

It could have easily gone the other way, if not for the grit of No. 1 goaltender Mike Smith and his gumption to stay in the game after taking a brutish shoulder thump from the Blackhawks' Andrew Shaw. Smith was laid out on the ice after the shot for a few moments. See, Smith is playing well, and hot goaltenders can mean all the difference in the world in the playoffs, and losing Smith could have turned the tide in a 2-2 tie.

The second period started with Shane Doan and Niklas Hjalmarsson trading hard checks. Brandon Bollig tied the score at 2 at the 6:57 mark of the period, but seconds later, Shaw delivered his ill-advised hit and was called for a five-minute major and ejected on a game misconduct.

Smith appeared to have been hit pretty hard on the play and stayed down for some time. However, the hit might not have been as hard as it looked, as Smith was able to stay in the game.

So the Coyotes kept their ace goalie and got a five-minute power play. Ninety seconds into that, they cashed in, as Antoine Vermette put away his second goal of the night. Using Raffi Torres' screen in front of the goal, Vermette's shot beat Corey Crawford for a 3-2 Coyotes lead.

Vermette and Torres have had particularly solid games, and the Coyotes penalty-killing unit has also come up big with two kills late in the second period.

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