The Chicago Blackhawks are fresh off their first playoff victory in three years, and they’ll hope to fend off elimination once again on Tuesday night as they take on the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 5 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.
The Blackhawks, who won Game 4 by a 3-1 margin, are still down three games to one in the best-of-seven series, but are hoping to keep their upset hopes alive as they head into a late-starting Game 5 tilt with the best squad in the West.
How can the Blackhawks win the game? Here are our three keys to victory.
Continue to Dominate on the Penalty Kill
Since Game 1 of the play-in series against the Edmonton Oilers, the Blackhawks have dominated games on the penalty kill, going a perfect 14-for-14 in their last five games when they’re a man down.
That’s going to be a key yet again in Game 5, as the Golden Knights will likely come out with the same intensity that they did in Game 4. They’re looking to close out the series, and with their superior skill and the physical edge with which they play the game, the Knights will likely force the Blackhawks into several penalties throughout the contest.
Can Alex DeBrincat Finally Break Out?
After a rough first period of Game 2, Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat has exhibited a noticeable up-tick in his game, pushing the tempo up and down the ice and making impact plays on both ends of the rink.
He finally broke through with an empty net goal in Game 4 of the series, clinching the victory for the Blackhawks and breaking a scoreless drought that was putting a large strain on some of the team’s other offensive stars.
With the Blackhawks still facing elimination in Game 5, DeBrincat needs to step up his game in order to help out his team, as they’ll have to deal with Vegas having the last line change in what is considered a home game for the Golden Knights.
Limit Vegas’ High-Danger Chances as Much as Possible
In the first two games of the series, the Blackhawks largely did a good job of limiting the Golden Knights’ high-danger chances early in games, but began to falter late in both contests as they fell behind 2-0 in the series.
In Game 3 that began to change, with the Golden Knights earning more chances throughout the course of the game, and the Blackhawks’ defense collapsed completely in Game 4, giving up nearly 50 shots on goal in just 60 minutes of action.
Those failures are summed up perfectly by the number of “high-danger chances” that Crawford has faced in the playoffs, facing 92 such shots according to league statistics. That is by far the most high-danger chances faced of any netminder in the league, and illustrates just how good Crawford has had to be.
While the Blackhawks will need another strong performance by Crawford, they also need to help limit the number of good chances Vegas has, or else they could find themselves boarding planes back home come Wednesday.