No. 1 Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Blackhawks
6:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SN1, NBCSCH, ATTSN-RM
Vegas leads best-of-7 series, 3-0
Robin Lehner is likely to be the starting goalie for the Vegas Golden Knights, who will look to complete a sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves for the Golden Knights in their 2-1 win in Game 3 in Edmonton, the West hub city, on Saturday.
“He was our best player tonight and my plan all along was to play both guys in the back-to-back, and that’s what we did,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said Saturday. “So it was an easy decision.”
Lehner, who started Games 1 and 2, has not lost a game with the Golden Knights, who acquired him from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 24 after the Blackhawks traded him to the Maple Leafs earlier that day. Lehner is 4-0 with a 2.39 goals-against average and .907 save percentage in four postseason starts; he was 3-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .940 save percentage in three regular-season games before the pause.
DeBoer said forward Paul Stastny, unfit to play for Game 3, was a potential option for Game 4.
Teams with a 3-0 lead are 190-4 (97.9 percent) winning a best-of-7 Stanley Cup Playoff series. The last time the Blackhawks trailed 0-3 in a series was against the Nashville Predators in the 2017 Western Conference First Round. The Predators defeated the Blackhawks in four games.
Here are 3 keys to Game 4:
1. More Kane
Forward Patrick Kane played 24:41 in Game 3, the second-highest ice time for the Blackhawks behind defenseman Duncan Keith (25:17). Kane has no problem double-shifting, playing extra minutes, and even on the second half of a back-to-back it won’t be surprising if he does it again Sunday.
“He looks fresh,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said Saturday. “He’s an important player for us. He looked like he was flying and he made a lot of plays tonight, I thought. We’ll see how the game goes [Sunday].”
2. Looking to finish
The Golden Knights have usually played great in the third period in the postseason (10-2 goal differential), but they weren’t happy with their final 20 minutes of Game 3. The Blackhawks got to within 2-1 when defenseman Olli Maatta scored at 6:21.
“We took over in the second, in the third we kind of laid off, kind of let them skate through the neutral zone with puck and speed,” Golden Knights forward William Karlsson said. “We have to be more aggressive up the ice and stop them higher up on the ice. I’m not too happy about the way we played in the third and let them in the game like that.”
3. DeBrincat close
Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat has four points but no goals in six postseason games. He had his best scoring chances in Game 3 and led Chicago with eight shots on goal. The Blackhawks need him to break through on those opportunities in Game 4.
“I thought I had a lot of good chances. Just didn’t squeak through,” DeBrincat said Saturday. “Tomorrow’s a new day, and it’s going to go in tomorrow.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty — William Karlsson — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — Paul Stastny — Reilly Smith
Nick Cousins — Chandler Stephenson — Alex Tuch
William Carrier — Patrick Brown — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Alec Martinez — Shea Theodore
Nick Holden — Zach Whitecloud
Scratched: Dylan Coghlan, Oscar Dansk, Reid Duke, Deryk Engelland, Nicolas Hague, Keegan Kolesar, Peyton Krebs, Jon Merrill, Gage Quinney
Unfit to play: Tomas Nosek
Blackhawks projected lineup
Dominik Kubalik — Jonathan Toews — Brandon Saad
Alex DeBrincat — Kirby Dach — Patrick Kane
Alex Nylander — Dylan Strome — Drake Caggiula
Matthew Highmore — David Kampf — Ryan Carpenter
Duncan Keith — Adam Boqvist
Calvin de Haan — Connor Murphy
Olli Maatta — Slater Koekkoek
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