On Monday night, another team advanced to the second round of the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Although the No. 3 seed Pacific Division champion Phoenix Coyotes were considered the underdog in their opening-round series against the Chicago Blackhawks, they dispatched their foes, four games to two, with a 4-0 victory in Chicago.
After each of the first five games in the series had all gone to overtime, the Coyotes opted for the blowout route in what proved to be the finale in enemy territory.
The Coyotes made the most of every chance they had. They were severely outshot by the Blackhawks, but not only did they manage to capitalize on the shots on goal that they did take, the Coyotes were able to lean on the spectacular defense of their goalie, Mike Smith.
The Coyotes managed to take a 1-0 lead in the second period, but they then piled on three more goals in the third period. Gilbert Brule served up the first goal, at 2:24 with an assist by Kyle Chipchura.
At 8:47, the Blackhawks received a backbreaking penalty, as Jimmy Hayes received a five-minute major and a 10-minute misconduct for boarding on Michal Rozsival. On the ensuing power play, Antoine Vermette scored at 13:04. This goal would be the true dagger for Chicago, as the costly penalty led to the goal that put any hope for a late comeback well out of reach and silenced the hometown crowd.
As you can see in the video below, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford lost sight of the puck due to a jumble of players set up in front of the net in a thick screen. Vermette was in the perfect position to receive the precision pass -- both Mikkel Boedker and Oliver Ekman-Larsson received assists on the play -- and was able to gently tap it in behind a completely unsuspecting Crawford, who left the right side of the net wide open.
Not content to let things lie there, less than two minutes later, Chipchura put the puck past Corey Crawford to put the Coyotes ahead 4-0.
The Western Conference semifinals have now been set. The Coyotes will face the Nashville Predators, while the St. Louis Blues will take on the Los Angeles Kings. None of the four teams in the Western Conference semifinals have ever won the Stanley Cup.
For all news and information regarding the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup playoffs, please visit SB Nation's dedicated NHL hub. For more from the Phoenix perspective, head over to Five For Howling and SB Nation Arizona. For more on the , check out Second City Hockey and SB Nation Chicago.