TIME: 7 p.m. CT
TV: NBC | RADIO: WGN 720-AM / WRTO-AM 1200 | STREAM: NHL.tv & MyTeamsApp
It's a pivotal Game 3 on national TV as the Blackhawks look to climb out of a 2-0 series hole against the Vegas Golden Knights on Saturday evening in Edmonton.
LAST TIME OUT
The Blackhawks fell to Vegas 4-3 in overtime in Game 2 on Thursday night. The Golden Knights led 2-0 after the first period until Kirby Dach scored his first career playoff marker, followed soon after by Dominik Kubalik to even the game at 2-2 midway through the second. Mark Stone and Dylan Strome traded late second-period goals to tie things up 3-3 before the game went into overtime, where Reilly Smith scored the game-winning goal 7:13 to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 series lead.
Video: Caggiula on playing with Kane
After a change on the defensive end in Game 2, it's likely that Adam Boqvist draws back into the lineup for Game 3 with head coach Jeremy Colliton saying the staff wanted to give him a night off to try and take his game to another level.
"He's a young player. It's a high level, we're asking a lot out of him," he said. "We think that he can bring just his puck plays and his ability to break us out clean and the things he can do in the offensive blue line just to provide a little bit different dimension. He got a rest and he'll have the opportunity to come back. We'll figure out the lineup (Saturday), but we think he can help us."
The Blackhawks also made changes up front both at the start of Game 2 and then again within the game, seeing Patrick Kane split time with both Kirby Dach and Drake Caggiula, as well as Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome. It remains to be seen which combination Colliton sticks with in Game 3, but can anticipate a similar look to the forward units.
Kubalik - Toews - Saad
Caggiula - Dach - Kane
Nylander - Strome - Highmore
Nylander - Kampf - Carpenter
Keith - Boqvist
de Haan - Murphy
Maatta - Koekkoek
Video: Colliton on complete game
BUILDING ON GAME 2
While the game was lost in overtime, Thursday night was a big step forward for the Blackhawks in their matchup with the Golden Knights. For stretches of the first and nearly all of the second, Chicago was able to apply pressure offensively and control more of the puck, while thwarting the deep and dangerous Vegas attack.
"They're a big team and they advance the puck," Colliton said Friday. "They find a way to move it ahead and drive it into the offensive zone, whether skating it or chipping it in and they've got a really good forecheck. They're a big team, they protect the puck well in the offensive zone and they try to play the territorial game. It's a challenge for us but I thought the first two periods in both games, Game 1 and 2, we did a really good job and we've got to find a way to do it for three."
"I think we want to park the whole losing in overtime thing, but I hope that we bring a lot of the things that we did in the game into Game 3," Slater Koekkoek added, also noting the strong play over a larger part of Game 2. "I liked our first two periods. I thought we were on our toes, playing well and the third we dropped off a little bit. We want to park those negatives but bring those positives as well to the next game."
Video: Koekkoek on defensive structure
GOING BACK TO THE BACK-TO-BACK
It's a make-or-break weekend for Chicago, trailing 2-0 in the series with a back-to-back games on Saturday and Sunday evening that could vault them back into the series or send them home from Edmonton earlier than planned.
Over the course of the regular season, the Blackhawks tied for the most back-to-back games played at the pause with 14 total on the season. They were one of the league's strongest teams in the back half of the double feature, posting a 6-5-3 record in the first game and a sixth-best 9-4-1 record in the follow up. Vegas, though, was the second-best team in the second game with a 9-2-0 record in only 11 instances.
"I think it's focusing on the next shift, focusing on what's right in front of you," Colliton said of his team's strength in the back-to-back this season. "(So) we're certainly not going to look ahead to Game 4 (yet), we start with this game right here. That's the one we've got to be focused on. We'll be ready for puck drop."
"We played a lot of back-to-backs in our schedule this season, but it's playoffs," Drake Caggiula said. "It's one game at a time and we'll worry about the second game when that time comes. Right now we're focusing on Game 3 and making sure we get back in the series."