If Game 3 wasn’t a must-win situation for the Blackhawks, then it was certainly a “better win” situation. They couldn’t afford to fall into a 3-0 hole against the Vegas Golden Knights, but that’s what happened on Saturday.
Despite outshooting the Golden Knights (27-26) for the first time in the series, the Blackhawks lost 2-1 and now face a win-or-go home situation in Game 4 on Sunday.
“Tough defeat, obviously,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “Puts us in a desperate situation. I really liked our start. The only thing missing was execution. … There’s nothing left to do but rest up, regroup and put everything we have into tomorrow’s game and then we’ll see what happens.”
The Blackhawks certainly had their chances in Game 3. They had four power-play opportunities, which matched their total from the first two games combined, but failed to capitalize. Alex DeBrincat was easily the best player on the ice for the Blackhawks after registering a game-high nine slot shots on net. No other player had more than four.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who was the surprise starter in the first game of a back-to-back, was sensational and turned aside all but one of the 27 shots he faced for a saved percentage of .963. If he wasn’t on his A-game, the Blackhawks probably win the game.
But there are no moral victories in the playoffs. The Blackhawks want results and they’re not getting them.
“We’re down three games,” Jonathan Toews said. “Tomorrow’s a must-win to stay alive. That’s the reality, that’s the way we look at it. We were working for the bounces, pucks were lying around, just didn’t find the back of the net. Tomorrow we have to believe that we will.”
Only four teams in NHL history have overcome a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven Stanley Cup Playoffs series. The all-time record is 4-190 for a success rate 2.1 percent. The last team to do it was the 2014 Los Angeles Kings, who eliminated the San Jose Sharks in the first round and went on to win the Stanley Cup.
The Blackhawks have consistently shown they’re a team that will fight back when faced with adversity. And that’s what needs to happen on Sunday or their season will be over.
“We want to be that team that plays to the end and never quits,” Colliton said. “We showed character to come back, but in the end, it’s a results thing and we’ve got to find a way to finish it. That’ll be our focus going into tomorrow. Don’t quit, be prepared to battle and put all we have into the game tomorrow and just win one.”
‘Desperate’ Blackhawks face win-or-go-home situation against Golden Knights originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago