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2020 NHL Playoffs: Blackhawks eliminated with 4-3 loss to Golden Knights in Game 5

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Chicago blew a two-goal lead for the second straight game, but couldn’t hold off Vegas.

NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Chicago Blackhawks at Vegas Gerry Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Blackhawks are the first team eliminated from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

After leading or being tied with the Golden Knights for the first 41:34 of the game, Alex Tuch scored the game-winning goal to send the Blackhawks packing with a 4-3 loss in Game 5 of the Western Conference first-round series Tuesday at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Max Pacioretty had a goal and an assist for Vegas, who will play the lowest remaining seed in the West’s second round. Mark Stone and Alec Martinez also scored, and William Karlsson had two assists. Robin Lehner made 23 saves.

Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane scored, and Corey Crawford made 35 saves for the No. 8 seed Chicago, who lost three games in the series by one goal.

The Blackhawks will have the No. 16 or No. 17 pick in the NHL Draft depending on whether the Canadiens rally to defeat the Eastern Conference’s top-seeded Flyers. If Montreal is eliminated, Chicago will have the No. 17 pick.

The Blackhawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead like they did in Game 4, but just like in Game 4 the Golden Knights answered within a minute of the second goal.

Toews located a loose puck at the doorstep and put it past Lehner for a 1-0 lead at 10:32. Brayden McNabb turned the puck over, and Brandon Saad sent a pass across the right faceoff circle to Kubalik for a backhand shot that Toews knocked in.

Dylan Strome took Connor Murphy’s spin-o-rama pass and found Alex DeBrincat, who tapped it into the net to extend the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-0 at 18:19.

Crawford delivered early in the first period with several key saves to keep Vegas off the scoreboard.

The Golden Knights then tied it 2-2, with Pacioretty pouncing on a rebound with 31 seconds remaining in the first period then Mark Stone one-timing a pass from Karlsson 57 seconds into the second period. Chicago looked like it was caught on a bad change to open up the scoring chance on Vegas’ second goal.

Kane regained the lead at 4:02 when he made a move on his forehand and slipped the puck under Lehner’s pads. Drake Caggiula helped set up the play by keeping the puck in the offensive zone.

The Blackhawks’ perfect penalty kill finally gave up a goal at 7:28 when Martinez sniped a cross-ice pass from Reilly Smith into the net for a power-play goal to tie it 3-3.

Tuch appeared to have scored his second of the period with 4:47 remaining, but it was disallowed after Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton successfully challenged for goaltender interference on Nick Cousins.

Notes

Colliton made a highly questionable move, to say the least, to sit Alex Nylander for John Quenneville, who was put on the top line with Toews and Dominik Kubalik. Brandon Saad moved down to the third line with DeBrincat and Strome. The decision to include Quenneville instead of more offensively-minded players Dylan Sikura or Brandon Hagel didn’t sit well with fans and left reporters scratching their heads. Colliton even left Quenneville on the ice with less than three minutes remaining in the game with the team chasing a goal.

Crawford improved throughout the postseason and kept the Blackhawks in this series. His performances came after recovering from COVID-19 and only participating in one practice during training camp. The 35-year-old is an unrestricted free agent and certainly showed his worth in the postseason.

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