There’s really no sugar-coating it: on Sunday night, Corey Crawford beat the Vegas Golden Knights.
Crawford has put together a resume that will get some serious consideration for the Hall of Fame when he retires, including two championships. He’s played in some of the biggest games in franchise history and performed admirably. Most (including Patrick Kane) believe he should have won the Conn Smythe in 2013.
But Sunday night may have been his finest playoff performance.
Crawford allowed one goal against 49 shots in regulation to give the Blackhawks at least one more game in the 2020 playoffs. He was tremendous from start to finish, begging his defense to help him while continuing to keep the puck out of the net.
Corey Crawford’s 46 saves are the third-most by a @NHLBlackhawks goaltender when facing elimination (since 1955-56). The only goaltender with more since 1955-56: Tony Esposito (52 in Game 3 of 1975 PRLM & 49 in Game 4 of 1970 SF). #NHLStats #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/NCw4v25O52— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 17, 2020
How much did the stats favor Vegas? Check out the 5on 5 CORSI chart for the game:
And look at where the shots were coming from:
The Blackhawks were credited with 32 blocked shots in front of Crawford, led by five from Calvin de Haan. Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy were credited with four blocks each as well. Four Chicago forwards were credited with two blocked shots as well as the Blackhawks committed to the defensive end of the ice.
But the offense needed to do something – anything – to keep Chicago in the series. After scoring five total goals in three losses in the series this far, the Blackhawks were praying the hockey gods would give them a bounce or two.
Robin Lehner – and his head – obliged them with a couple gifts.
Olli Maatta continued his terrific postseason on the offensive end of the ice. He made a gorgeous pass to Drake Cagguila to get Chicago on the board first four minutes into the game.
Chicago’s second goal – which held up as the game-winner – was as ugly as it gets for Lehner. Matthew Highmore threw a puck at the net from below the goal line and Lehner tried to head it away from the net. He failed.
Vegas scored less than 20 seconds later but the rest of the night belonged to Crawford. Alex DeBrincat, who spoked after his eigh-shot performance in Game Three about just needed a bounce or two, finally scored into the empty net to put the game away in the closing moments.
DeBrincat finished tied with Brandon Saad for the team lead with four shots on net.
Jonathan Toews skated only 16:53 but was credited with two shots on net, two blocked shots and won 13 of 23 faceoffs. Kane put three shots on net in 23:19, the most ice time among Blackhawks forwards.
Cagguila led Chicago with seven hits.