Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith won three Stanley Cup titles with the Chicago Blackhawks from 2010 to 2015, but they never had to rally from a 3-0 deficit to win a series in those championship years.
They found themselves in that unenviable position after three games last week against the top-seeded Vegas Golden Knights in the Western Conference first round, scratched out a win in Game 4 behind Crawford’s 48 saves, and now bring renewed energy into Game 5 on Tuesday night in Edmonton.
“We have some great young players to go with the guys who have been doing this for a while, so I like our chances,” Crawford told reporters.
Since Crawford, Kane, Toews and Keith began playing together in the 2007-08 season, they’d been on the verge of getting swept two other times, both in the first round.
The Blackhawks pushed the Vancouver Canucks to seven games in 2011 before losing the series. They were swept by the Nashville Predators in 2017.
Crawford has proven tough to beat when his back is against a wall.
Before his stellar effort in Game 4, Crawford was 13-5 when facing elimination, with a 91.8 percent on saves and 2.39 goals-against average.
He’ll very likely be in a goal for a fifth straight game in this series
“It’s just nice to get the first one to get a little momentum,” Crawford said. “A little belief.”
Vegas is in just its third season of existence, but the Golden Knights already know what it takes to get deep in the playoffs.
Vegas advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2018, losing to the Washington Capitals in five games.
Despite getting beat 3-1 in Game 4, Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt considered the game the best offensive performance for the Golden Knights in the series.
It’s going to take more than that to finish off the Blackhawks, however.
“They’re not a team that’s going to go away, given their history of guys who have been here,” Schmidt said. “You always want to win a game like that, but the mood in the room right now is, if we continue to play like that in Game 5, we’ll give ourselves a heck of a chance to win.”
Vegas is still looking for its first power-play goal of the series. The Golden Knights are 0-for-9 with the man advantage after finishing ninth in the NHL during the regular season with a 22-percent success rate.
The Blackhawks were ninth on the penalty kill during the regular season (82.1 percent).
Chicago coach Jeremy Colliton is confident his team can stay with Vegas in all types of situations, but it’s going to take a major effort from every player and coach.
“They’re an excellent team and can beat you in different ways,” Colliton said. “They have some speed and size and can work you down low, but we’ve had our moments and we’ve generated for our team and shown we can score on our chances, so we’re right there.”
Colliton remains guarded with his optimism, however.
“When they’ve been better than us, they’ve been way better than us,” he said.
–Field Level Media