3 Keys: Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights, Game 5 of Western First Round

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No. 8 Blackhawks vs. No. 1 Golden Knights

10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS

Vegas leads best-of-7 series, 3-1

The Vegas Golden Knights can advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 5 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Tuesday.

It remains unclear if goalies Robin Lehner or Marc-Andre Fleury will start for the Golden Knights. Lehner, who won Games 1 and 2, lost his first game with the Golden Knights in Game 4 on Sunday, 3-1. Fleury was a 2-1 winner in Game 3 on Saturday.

Vegas acquired Lehner in a trade the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 24 after the Blackhawks traded him to Toronto earlier that day. He is 4-1-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in five postseason starts after going 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .940 save percentage in three regular-season games for Vegas.

Teams that have a 3-1 lead are 278-29 (90.6 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL series; 173 of those series (56.4 percent) ended in Game 5.

Here are 3 keys to Game 5:

 

1. Cool Crawford

Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford was the difference in Game 4, making 48 saves, the most the 35-year-old has made in a playoff game that didn’t go to overtime.

Crawford, who missed all but the final day of training camp after testing positive for COVID-19, has played in all eight of Chicago’s postseason games, including four in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Edmonton Oilers. He’s 4-4 with a 3.21 GAA and .909 save percentage.

“[Crawford] made countless saves, whether it be rebound chances, slot shots, backdoor,” Blackhawks forward Matthew Highmore said. “He was great for us, just settling us down back there. That’s what a good goalie does, and he certainly is that.”

 

2. Staying the course

The Golden Knights have outshot the Blackhawks 148-97 and have a plus-3 goal differential (11-8) in the series. However, they’ve been limited to three goals in the past two games.

Coach Peter DeBoer was pleased with the way the Golden Knights pushed in an attempt to close out the series in Game 4. They fnished with 49 shots on goal.

“It’s never easy to lose, and you never want to drop an opportunity to eliminate a team. But how you lose is more important than if you lose and, for me, we lost the right way (in Game 4),” DeBoer said. “During a long playoff run, you’re going to have adversity like a hot goalie, a bad call or health issues. I thought we came out with the intention of closing that series out and played that way, but it didn’t happen. You move on and try to it again Tuesday night.”

 

3. Power-play outage

The Golden Knights have struggled on the power play in this series.

Vegas ranked ninth in the NHL on the power play (22.0 percent) during the regular season but is 15th (15.0 percent) in the postseason, including 0-for-9 in four games against Chicago.

“[Crawford] made some big saves, but I think we have to look at ourselves,” forward Jonathan Marchessault said. “With my unit, we didn’t execute a couple plays, and could be a little cleaner in the [offensive] zone. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what unit gets it, but the power play is a huge factor and we need to get some big goals here.”

 

Blackhawks projected lineup

Dominik KubalikJonathan ToewsBrandon Saad

Alex DeBrincatKirby DachPatrick Kane

Alex NylanderDylan StromeDrake Caggiula

Matthew Highmore — David KampfRyan Carpenter

Duncan KeithAdam Boqvist

Calvin de HaanConnor Murphy

Olli MaattaSlater Koekkoek

Corey Crawford

Malcolm Subban

Scratched: Collin Delia, MacKenzie Entwistle, Brandon Hagel, John Quenneville, Dylan Sikura, Philipp Kurashev, Nicolas Beaudin, Lucas Carlsson, Alec Regula, Nick Seeler, Kevin Lankinen

Unfit to play: None

 

Golden Knights projected lineup

Max PaciorettyChandler StephensonMark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault — William KarlssonReilly Smith

Nick CousinsNicolas RoyAlex Tuch

William CarrierPatrick BrownRyan Reaves

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt

Alec MartinezShea Theodore

Nick HoldenZach Whitecloud

Robin Lehner

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Dylan Coghlan, Oscar Dansk, Reid Duke, Deryk Engelland, Nicolas Hague, Keegan Kolesar, Peyton Krebs, Jon Merrill, Gage Quinney

Unfit to play: Tomas Nosek, Paul Stastny

 

Status report

Stastny and Nosek are day to day. The forwards will each be a game-time decision.

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