With 2 minutes 13 seconds left in overtime Sunday in the United Center, Blackhawks rookie goaltender Michael Leighton found himself with three Phoenix attackers bearing down on him and not a single teammate in position to come to his rescue.
When Tyson Nash shot the puck from about three feet away, it seemed that the Coyotes were about to win their first game in a month.
But, in Nash's words, "the goalie made a great save," and because of it and many others, the Hawks escaped with a 2-2 tie.
"The overtime said it all," Hawks coach Brian Sutter said. "We had defensemen (Bryan Berard and Deron Quint) run into each other in the offensive zone and it was 3-on-0 going the other way. [Leighton] was the story of the game."
The save on Nash was one of 39 that Leighton made during the matinee. Nine came in overtime, several of them collector's items.
"Leighton was huge for them the whole game," Coyotes coach Rick Bowness said. "He's why we have a tie."
It was the third straight stellar performance for the rookie, who rejected 46 shots in Wednesday's 3-2 loss to Carolina and 32 in Friday's 4-3 overtime victory over Vancouver.
Leighton said anticipation was the key to thwarting the three-man rush in overtime.
"I figured they were going to pass it a few times," he said. "I tried to anticipate where the puck was going. I cheated over toward Nash because I knew the puck was going there."
Unfortunately for Leighton, the Hawks couldn't hold their early two-goal lead. Eric Daze deflected a power-play shot from the point by Jim Vandermeer to open the scoring at 7:53 of the first period. Then, after assisting on Daze's goal, Tyler Arnason made a sprawling conversion of a rebound at the right post when Phoenix goalie Brian Boucher failed to hold onto a shot by Tuomo Ruutu at 5:02 of the second period.
A short-handed goal by Dan Cleary got the Coyotes on the scoreboard just past the midway point in the second period.
"[Leighton] would like to have that one back," Sutter said. "He overplayed that onea shot from the boards [by Sean Doan], it hits the skate [of Cleary] and goes in."
Then, with 9:57 left in regulation and the Hawks' Scott Nichol in the penalty box for hooking, Mike Comrie backhanded in a bouncing puck to tie the score on a power play.
The bottom lines: Arnason's 21st goal of the season was his eighth in the last 10 games, and his 31st assist was his eighth during the same span. Phoenix has an 0-8-4-3 record in its last 15 games. All three of the Hawks' games with the Coyotes this season have been 2-2 ties.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times