Chicago took Game 1 with an impressive 6-4 win Saturday before Edmonton answered with a 6-3 win in Game 2 on Monday to even the series. The Blackhawks will be the “home team” and have the last change.
After a much better starting performance than his counterpart, Mikko Koskinen will continue in the Oilers’ net. Meanwhile, after just six minutes from his replacement, Drake Caggiula will return to his spot in the Blackhawks’ lineup.
The Blackhawks weren’t great in Game 2 without Caggiula, who served a one-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head in Game 1. They had a 40-percent shot share and 35.46-percent expected goal share at even strength, allowed Connor McDavid to score his first career postseason hat trick — including two goals 4:05 into the game — and never led at any point.
Chicago looked very much the part of a No. 12 seed up against a No. 5 seed in Game 2, which is an entirely different situation than Game 1. The Blackhawks have minus-1 goal differential in the series with nine goals for and 10 goals against.
Neither special teams unit has performed well consistently. In Game 1, the Blackhawks’ power play scored three goals, but their penalty kill allowed three. In Game 2, the power play didn’t score despite having four opportunities, but the penalty kill allowed only one goal, the third goal for McDavid.
Chicago was outplayed at even strength and that was the overarching story of Game 2. Here are the keys to making sure Game 3’s story is much different.
Corey Crawford needs to be better
The Blackhawks have not received the same performances from Crawford as they’re used to in the postseason (.919 career save percentage). The last two times Chicago headed to the postseason in 2016 and 2017, Crawford was one of their most dependable players.
This time around, Crawford has been a large part of the 10 goals against. His .844 save percentage ranks 26th across all strengths, and he’s 23rd at even strength (.875) and 21st on the penalty kill (.714). Those are not quality numbers and the Blackhawks need Crawford at his best.
More production from skilled players
Crawford is not the only Chicago player that needs to improve. Right wing Alex Nylander hasn’t impressed yet, with no points, a 43.9 Corsi For percent and 40.91-percent shot share.
Nylander, however, isn’t the only Swede who hasn’t scored. The Blackhawks haven’t seen any point production from a potentially important source in defenseman Adam Boqvist, who has been heavily sheltered for offensive zone time. If he’s seeing more offensive zone time, he should be contributing.
The first line was magical in Game 1, but scored zero points in Game 2. The second line did put up points in Game 2, with Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane each recording two points but Dylan Strome did not.
The Blackhawks went from 13 shots in 6:50 to five shots in 7:53 from Games 1 and 2, respectively. Not being willing to shoot was one of the issues that plagued the Chicago power play in the regular season, and it reared its ugly head in Game 2. The Blackhawks also went from five high-danger chances in Game 1 to zero in Game 2, and 1.22 to .29 in expected goals. Again, this is with an additional minute.
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill looked much better. Despite having nearly double the amount of time (8:35 to 4:38), they had some similar results.
Game 1: 3 goals against, 6 shots and 4 high-danger chances against, 1.05 expected goals
Game 2: 1 goal against, 8 shots and 6 high-danger chances against, 1.09 expected goals
If the Blackhawks can find someway to combine the best of both worlds, the Oilers will likely regress to the five-on-five team they were in the regular season, a team much worse than was seen Monday.
Tale of the Tape
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)
Kubalik — Toews — Saad
Nylander — Strome — Kane
DeBrincat — Dach — Caggiula
Carpenter — Kampf — Highmore
Keith — Boqvist
De Haan — Murphy
Maatta — Koekkoek
Nugent-Hopkins — McDavid — Archibald
Ennis — Draisaitl — Yamamoto
Athanasiou — Haas — Kassian
Neal — Khaira — Chiasson
Klefbom — Larsson
Nurse — Bear
Russell — Benning
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