The Chicago Blackhawks are in a 2-0 series hole against the Vegas Golden Knights, and they’ll hope to turn things around with a pair of back-to-back games this weekend as they take over as the home squad.
The Blackhawks, who lost Game 2 in overtime on Thursday, have a tall task in front of them as they try to figure out a way to beat the top-seeded team in the Western Conference. Vegas has outshot the Blackhawks in both games, and they have gotten two game-winning goals from Reilly Smith, as he scored in the third period of Game 1 and scored the overtime winner in Game 2.
So how can the Blackhawks start clawing their way back from a 2-0 series deficit against the Golden Knights? Here are our three keys to Game 3.
Is It Time for a DeBrincat-Strome-Kane Line?
At various points during Thursday’s loss to the Golden Knights, head coach Jeremy Colliton deployed a line featuring Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Patrick Kane, and at no point was the line more effective than it was late in the second period.
On the play, DeBrincat fed a pass across the ice to Kane, who then fired a no-look backhand pass to Strome, who rushed up the left side of the ice and one-timed the puck into a wide open cage to tie the game at 3-3.
It’s unclear whether Colliton will deploy that matchup more often in Game 3 of the series in an attempt to generate more offense, but with the Blackhawks possessing last line change, he could very well use the line in favorable situations.
No More Soft Goals for Crawford
Crawford has had an up-and-down series so far, with herculean efforts at times, including his outstanding third period against the Golden Knights in Game 2 of the series, but he’s also struggled at times too, with soft goals allowed to Reilly Smith and Tomas Nosek during the best-of-seven affair.
The Blackhawks are hoping to get more of the “good” Crawford in Game 3 of the series, as a big push from him could be the difference between a win and a loss in a series that has seen the Blackhawks come close on multiple occasions to knotting things up.
Take Advantage of Chances on the Rush
The Blackhawks are getting some great opportunities on the rush against Vegas, but they’ve been criticized for dropping passes to teammates instead of driving the net and creating chances against Robin Lehner.
One of those missed chances occurred in Game 2 for the Blackhawks and turned into a goal for the Golden Knights, as Dylan Strome passed up a scoring chance and dropped a pass back toward the point. Instead, the Golden Knights picked up the puck and scored on the ensuing 3-on-1 rush, extending their lead to two goals.
Those types of plays present good opportunities for the Blackhawks, and with Vegas’ dominance of the third period of both Games 1 and 2, the Blackhawks have to take advantage of every possible scoring threat to have a chance to knock off the Knights.