After dropping Game 2 to the Edmonton Oilers, the Chicago Blackhawks will return to the ice Wednesday night as they look to seize control of the best-of-five series in a Game 3 showdown.
The Blackhawks, who took Game 1 of the series behind a strong offensive effort from their top line, saw their second line get in on the act in Game 2, with Patrick Kane and Kirby Dach playing a strong game for Chicago. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, Edmonton’s big stars came out to play too, as Connor McDavid registered his first career playoff hat trick in the victory.
Now, the Blackhawks will look to grab a critical 2-1 lead in the series, with Game 4 set for Friday evening in Edmonton.
To do so, here are our Three Keys to Game 3 for the Blackhawks.
Better Power Play Execution
After scoring three power play goals in the first game of the series, the Chicago Blackhawks were shut out on the man-advantage in Game 2, including a series of three straight failed power play attempts in the second period that cost Chicago a chance to tie up the game, or to potentially take the lead.
The big difference between the two games for Chicago was simply a matter of execution. While in Game 1 the team was able to find open ice for Dominik Kubalik and Jonathan Toews to work in, Edmonton began to collapse their defenders in the middle of the ice in Game 2, taking away those seams and blocking a slew of shots along the way.
If the Blackhawks are going to be successful in Game 3, they’ll need Kubalik and Toews to get more active on the outside, allowing Dach to work in front of the net and forcing the Oilers to spread out their defensive corps.
Take Advantage of the “Home Ice” Advantage
In the first two games of the series, the Oilers were able to dictate their matchups against the Blackhawks by virtue of being the home team, and in Game 2 that came in handy as Edmonton was able to get favorable matchups consistently for McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
The Blackhawks will have that advantage in each of the next two games, so they’ll likely look to get Toews and David Kampf out against McDavid as often as possible, and will likely try to get Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy out against McDavid as well.
If the Blackhawks aren’t able to take advantage of last change, and end up with Olli Maatta going up against McDavid and the other talented Edmonton forwards, then they could be in for a long night, as Maatta lost several foot races in the Game 2 loss.
Adam Boqvist Must Find His Form
Game 2 may have been one of Boqvist’s worst games of the season, as he missed multiple defensive assignments and was on the wrong side of the ice on McDavid’s first goal of the game just 19 seconds into the contest.
Boqvist showed some skill in Game 1, and his speed is also a tremendous asset against an athletic Edmonton squad, and he’ll need to harness all of that if he wants to stay on a pairing with Keith in a critical game for the Blackhawks.