Chicago avoided a first-round sweep by Vegas with a 3-1 win in Game 4 thanks to Corey Crawford’s playoff regulation career-high 48 saves. Drake Caggiula and Matthew Highmore both scored for a 2-0 lead before Shea Theodore answered 18 seconds later. The score held firm until Alex DeBrincat scored into an empty net with 11 seconds remaining in the game for his first career playoff goal.
Crawford improved to 4-4 with a .909 save percentage and minus-3.31 goals saved above average in the postseason.
Robin Lehner made 22 saves in his first loss for the Golden Knights since he was acquired from the Maple Leafs on Feb. 24 after the Blackhawks traded him to Toronto. Lehner is 4-1 with a .908 save percentage and minus-1.57 GSAA in the postseason.
The Golden Knights have outshot the Blackhawks 148-97 in the series, including 49-25 on Sunday, but were held to fewer than two goals for the first time this postseason.
Despite being outmatched and outplayed for most of the series, two of Chicago’s three losses in the series are by one goal. The odds are stacked against the Blackhawks to win the series as only four teams in NHL history (4-190, 2.1 percent) have overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series. The last team to do it was the 2014 Kings, who eliminated the Sharks in the first round and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks killed three penalties in Game 4 to improve to nine-for-nine on the penalty kill against Vegas. Crawford has played a large role with a 2.73 goals saved above average on the penalty kill. But the Blackhawks haven’t made it easy on him by giving up 40 shot attempts, 23 shots on goal, 13 scoring chances and five high-danger changes, according to Natural Stat Trick.
De Haan needs to be better
Calvin de Haan had a team-high five blocked shots, but otherwise he had a rough Game 4. He was on ice for four shots for and 38 against and nine high-danger chances against. He played more time with rookie Adam Boqvist (6:55) than his normal partner, Connor Murphy (3:22) during five-on-five play. Improvement from de Haan, and the rest of the defense, will clearly be a key for Chicago to win.
Top players to deliver
After recording four assists between Games 2 and 3, Patrick Kane did not score a point in Game 4. His eight points (one goal, seven assists) remain tied with Jonathan Toews (four goals, four assists) for the most on the team, but neither player has scored a goal this series. The Blackhawks’ top line of Brandon Saad, Toews and Dominik Kubalik have only connected on one goal in the series from Kubalik in Game 1.
Crawford to step up again
The Blackhawks needed a “goalie win” from Crawford to take Game 4 against Vegas, and they’ll probably need another one in Game 5. The defense did a better job in the third period Sunday of pushing shot attempts to the outside and make things easier for Crawford. It certainly helped him and if done for more than one period would serve the team well.
Kubalik — Toews — Saad
Caggiula — Dach — Kane
DeBrincat — Strome — Nylander
Carpenter — Kampf — Highmore
Keith — Boqvist
De Haan — Murphy
Maatta — Koekkoek
Pacioretty — Stephenson — Stone
Marchessault — Karlsson — Smith
Cousins — Roy — Tuch
Carrier — Brown — Reaves
McNabb — Schmidt
Martinez — Theodore
Holden — Whitecloud
How to Watch
When: 9:30 p.m.
Where: Rogers Place, Edmonton, AB, Canada
TV: NBC Sports Chicago, NBC Sports Network
Live stream: NBC Sports app