The Chicago Blackhawks are 0-2 at home in this first-round series. On Saturday, they have no choice but to turn that trend around with a must-win Game 6 against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center. A win means Game 7 back at the Scottrade Center on Monday. A loss would mean early vacation.
It's the same situation the Blackhawks were in on Thursday night, when they earned a miraculous 4-3 double overtime victory to potentially salvage their season. Chicago blew a two-goal lead in the third period -- just two games after blowing another lead in Game 3 -- and needed Patrick Kane's amazing effort in extra time to stay alive and send things back home.
Now the Hawks will look to get back on track at the UC, where the team lost Games 3 and 4 despite the advantage of a cheering crowd. Andrew Shaw's return should be a boost after the forward was suspended for the previous game because of his use of a homophobic slur while in the penalty box. It's unclear how the lines will stack up upon his return, though.
The fact that Chicago won Game 5 after losing the prior two games is a little funny. The Blackhawks dominated possession in their two losses at home, including a lopsided 42-20 effort in a 4-3 Game 4 loss. Meanwhile, the team got outshot, 46-35, in Game 5, yet rode a stellar effort from Corey Crawford to victory.
If the Hawks can keep winning the possession battles from here on out and get the Blues rattled, we might be getting ready to do this one more time on Monday.
Key Question: Can the penalty kill settle back in?
One of the big stories late in the regular season was how the return of Marcus Kruger transformed the Hawks' penalty kill back into an effective unit. Chicago fell apart in that aspect of the game without Kruger, its shutdown defensive center, and immediately started turning it around once he returned. During his absence, the Hawks signed Kruger to a three-year extension, which shows just how much they appreciate what he does.
That excellent PK play has taken a turn for the shaky over the past three games, though. After going a perfect 5-of-5 on penalty kills in the first two games of the series, Chicago has allowed five power goals over the past three games. The team's poor PK efforts have been a big part of why St. Louis has been able to overcome some disadvantage in shots at even strength.
The team did stop two power plays in Game 5 after allowing Jaden Schwartz to score on the Blues' first of the game. The PK stop late in the third period after a brutal too many men penalty might've saved the season. They'll need to keep doing that to hold off St. Louis and push this series to seven games.
How to watch Hawks vs. Blues Game 6
When: 7 p.m. CT
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: NBC (U.S.) | CBC, TVA Sports 2 (Canada)
Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra