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game recap

Blackhawks top Golden Knights in Game 4, avoid sweep in West First Round

Crawford makes 48 saves for Chicago, which hands Vegas first loss of postseason

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Highmore's tough-angle goal

VGK@CHI, Gm4: Highmore scores from sharp angle

R1, Gm4: Matthew Highmore finds the top corner from along the goal line to double the Blackhawks' lead in the 1st period

  • 00:42 •

Corey Crawford made 48 saves, and the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Sunday.

Drake Caggiula, Matthew Highmore and Alex DeBrincat scored for the No. 8 seed Blackhawks, who avoided being swept in the best-of-7 series. Game 5 is in Edmonton, the Western hub city, on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS).

"For the most part, I saw most of the shots," Crawford said. "There were a couple that I caught late, but we had some big blocks on our penalty kill. 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, get a little momentum and belief."

 

[WATCH: All Golden Knights vs. Blackhawks highlights]

 

It was the most saves Crawford has made in a Stanley Cup Playoff game that didn't go to overtime.

Shea Theodore scored, and Robin Lehner made 22 saves for the Golden Knights, the No. 1 seed who lost for the first time in seven postseason games (6-1-0).

Teams that have a 3-1 lead are 278-29 (90.6 percent) winning a best-of-7 NHL series; 173 of those series ended in Game 5 (56.4 percent).

Crawford, who missed all but the final day of training camp after testing positive for COVID-19, has played in every postseason game, including four in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers against the Edmonton Oilers. The 35-year-old made 24 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Golden Knights in Game 3 on Saturday in the first game of the back-to-back. 

"It's as good as he's ever been," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said of Crawford. "They had a lot of shots and he made himself big every time, not a lot of rebounds laying around either. He was our best player tonight."

Video: VGK@CHI, Gm4: Highmore scores from sharp angle

The last time Crawford played back-to-back Stanley Cup Playoff games was when he won Games 1 and 2 of the 2013 Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings. 

"We've got a ton of skill, we can score some goals, we play fast hockey, and now that we got a win, we have to carry that momentum," Crawford said. "We have some great young players to go with the guys who have been doing this for a while, so I like our chances."

The Golden Knights have outshot the Blackhawks 148-97 in the series, including 49-25 on Sunday, but were held to fewer than two goals for the first time this postseason.

"That was probably one of our best offensive games with regard to getting pucks through, getting our chances, getting on the forecheck, keeping the puck away from them," Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "They're not a team that's going to go away, given their history of guys who have been here. 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 a game."

Video: VGK@CHI, Gm4: Theodore buries long one-timer

The Blackhawks blocked 32 shots, including a game-high five by defenseman Calvin de Haan.

Lehner, who won Games 1 and 2, lost his first game with the Golden Knights, who acquired him from the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 24 after the Blackhawks traded him to the Maple Leafs earlier that day. Lehner is 4-1-0 in five postseason starts; he was 3-0-0 in three regular-season games.

"They're opportunistic, wait for rush chances, wait for a small mistake and attack," Lehner said. "They have good players doing it. I think it was our best game of the series. We just weren't rewarded."

Caggiula scored on a snap shot from the slot to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead at 4:08 of the first period, the first time in the series the Blackhawks held a lead.

"It was the first night we were playing with a lead in this series and we wanted to make sure that we didn't give them the high-quality chances that we were giving up in the first and second period," Caggiula said. "The defense stepped up and made a lot of blocks and clears in front of the net, tied up sticks. [Crawford] made the first save and we cleared and, if not, [Crawford] was there too."

Highmore made it 2-0 when his shot from along the goal line at the bottom of the left face-off circle deflected off the mask of Lehner at 13:40.

"I saw right away what happened; it wasn't exactly intentional," Highmore said. "I was just trying to get some pucks to the net. You take them any way you can get them to help the team. I was glad that went in, but it was a bit of a fortunate bounce."

Theodore scored on a slap shot from the right point through a screen to make it 2-1 at 13:58.

DeBrincat scored into an empty net with 11 seconds remaining in the third period for the 3-1 final.

"We've shown we can play with them," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. "It's a big challenge. They're an excellent team and can beat you in different ways. 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."

NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report

Video: Blackhawks avoid elimination with 3-1 victory

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