Blackhawks Live To Fight Another Day Behind Crawford’s Stellar Play in Net

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Crawford made a remarkable 48 saves to keep the Blackhawks alive in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 in Game 4 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday. The Hawks were out-played for the majority of the contest but never played from behind, largely due to Crawford’s effort in goal. The 35-year-old netminder has started every game for the Blackhawks in the 2020 postseason after missing all but the final day of training camp due to a positive COVID-19 test.

“It’s as good as he’s ever been,” Duncan Keith said on Crawford’s Game 4 performance. “They had a lot of shots and he made himself big every time. Wasn’t a whole lot of rebounds laying around, either. That was a big part of that. He was our best player tonight.”

Drake Caggiula opened the scoring at 4:08 of the first period for the Blackhawks’ first lead of the series. Olli Maatta continued his offensive wizardry on Sunday, as he made a beautiful no-look pass to find Caggiula in the slot for his first goal of the postseason.

Matthew Highmore extended the Blackhawks lead to 2-0 less than 10 minutes later when his wrist shot from below the goal line deflected off the mask of Vegas’ goaltender Robin Lehner and into the net. Highmore played a much larger role on Sunday than he did in Game 3 when he received just 5:50 of ice time. The undrafted forward now has three goals and one assist in eight games for the Blackhawks in these playoffs.

Lehner, who started in net for Games 1 and 2, was back in for Game 4 and lost his first start since being acquired by the Golden Knights on Feb. 24. The former Blackhawks goaltender stopped 22 of the 24 shots that he faced on Sunday and will likely get the nod once again for Game 5.

Shea Theodore cut the Blackhawks’ lead in half on a one-timer from the right point just 18 seconds after falling behind 2-0. The Hawks turned the puck over in their own zone a handful of times on Sunday, and this one found its way through traffic and past Crawford for his only blemish on the night.

Vegas came with a strong push in the final 20 minutes, but Crawford stopped all 13 shots to seal the deal for the Blackhawks. Alex DeBrincat added an empty netter for his first career postseason goal with 11 seconds remaining.

“There were a couple that I caught late but we had some big blocks too on our [penalty kill],” Crawford said. “If we’re going to get back in this series, we’re going to need a lot more of those. It’s just nice to get the first one to get a little momentum, a little belief.”

Crawford’s 48 saves are the third-most by a Blackhawks goaltender when facing elimination since the 1955-56 season, according to the NHL’s PR. Crawford also picked up his 52nd career postseason victory, which surpasses Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask for 19th in NHL history.

With the win, the Blackhawks stay alive and will take on the Golden Knights in Game 5 on Tuesday night at 9:30 p.m. CT. The contest is scheduled to be on NBCSN, NBC, and SN.

For more Blackhawks news and updates, follow the author (@TalkinHawkey) on Twitter. Make sure to check out the author’s daily podcast, Locked On Blackhawks, which can be found on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Twitter (@LO_Blackhawks).

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Born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Diehard Blackhawks and Cubs fan. Former high school baseball player. Studied Mass Media Communication and Psychology at the University of Missouri.