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2020 NHL Stanley Cup Qualifiers: Blackhawks to face Oilers, Mikko Koskinen in Game 2

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Can Chicago repeat its dominant performance from Game 1?

Chicago Blackhawks v Edmonton Oilers - Game One Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

The Blackhawks will look to build upon a stellar Game 1 performance when they face the Oilers in Game 2 of their Stanley Cup Qualifiers series Monday at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

Despite being the Western Conference’s No. 12 seed in the NHL’s return to play format, Chicago was all over the fifth-seeded Oilers on Saturday, scoring four straight goals en route to a 6-4 victory and a 1-0 series advantage.

That torrent of goals chased Edmonton starter Mike Smith from the net in Game 1 and coach Dave Tippett is going with Mikko Koskinen to start Game 2.

While Smith did bear the brunt of Chicago’s offensive explosion, they did score on Koskinen as well — Kubalik’s third goal of the game, which came on the power play. As we mentioned during last week’s preview, Koskinen had better regular season numbers than Smith, save for Smith’s League-best save percentage on the penalty kill (.918). Koskinen was no slouch on the PK, checking into the top 10 at .901. But the question marks involving Koskinen deal with his lack of experience in postseason games: Saturday’s game was Koskinen’s NHL playoff debut.

Chicago’s lineup will look slightly different, as well, with forward Drake Caggiula unavailable while serving a one-game suspension for his hit to the head on Edmonton’s Tyler Ennis during Game 1. The expectation here is Dylan Sikura will slot in on the third line with Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach.

A win in Game 2 would put Chicago firmly in the driver seat of this best-of-five series. Here are the keys to open that car door:

Keys to the game

  • Stay out of the box

Any doubts regarding Edmonton’s power play were answered during Game 1, when the Oilers scored three times with the man advantage. There’s no reason to test its prowess again. Consistent penalties will remain the quickest road to defeat for Chicago in this series.

  • Weather the early storm

After a disastrous start to the series for Edmonton, conventional wisdom suggests they’ll fly out of the gate for Game 2. Surrendering the first goal wouldn’t necessarily be a death knell for the Blackhawks — that’s what happened in Game 1, after all. But one early goal against can quickly turn into two or three by the Oilers, who displayed their ability to tally goals in bunches during the final minutes of the third period Saturday.

  • Goaltending play

The best remedy for a flurry of Oilers’ scoring chances would be a string of saves from Corey Crawford. Game 1 wasn’t Crawford’s finest performance, as the goalie was caught swimming in his crease in a few moments, especially when Edmonton racked up second and third-chance opportunities on the power play. It likely won’t take long Crawford to return to the impressive form he displayed during the regular season. But Game 1 showed he isn’t quite there yet.

  • Power play production

Considering how bad Chicago’s power play was in the regular season, expecting another three-goal performance on Monday night seems unrealistic. But continued generation of shots and scoring chances could be enough to prevent those power plays from becoming the deflating moments they so often were in the regular season.

Tale of the tape

Blackhawks — Stat — Oilers

48.79% (21st) — Corsi for — 47.56% (27th)

46.63% (28th) — Expected goals for — 48.75% (22nd)

2.97 (18th) — Goals per game — 3.14 (14th)

3.06 (17th) — Goals against per game — 3.03 (15th)

15.2% (28th) — Power play — 29.5% (1st)

82.1% (9th) — Penalty kill — 84.4% (2nd)

49.9% (17th) — Faceoffs — 49.0% (23rd)

Projected lineups

Blackhawks

Kubalik — Toews — Saad

Nylander — Strome — Kane

DeBrincat — Dach — Sikura

Carpenter — Kampf — Highmore

Keith — Boqvist

de Haan — Murphy

Maatta — Koekkoek

Crawford

Subban

Oilers

Nugent-HopkinsMcDavid — Kassian

EnnisDraisaitl — Yamamoto

Athanasiou — Haas — Archibald

Neal — Khaira — Chiasson

Klefbom — Larsson

Nurse — Bear

Russell — Benning

Koskinen

Smith

How to watch

When: 9:30 p.m.

Where: Rogers Place, Edmonton, AB, Canada

TV: NBC Sports Network, NBC Sports Chicago

Live stream: NBC Sports app, NHL.TV