EDMONTON – For a second-straight game, the Blackhawks faced elimination, and once again they were feisty in trying to keep their season alive for another game.
But unlike Sunday night, the Blackhawks couldn’t generate enough on either side of the ice to keep their season alive.
A competitive contest was decided in the third period, where top-seeded Vegas took control. An early goal would prove to be the game-winner as the Golden Knights beat the Blackhawks 4-3 in Game 5 at Rogers Place to officially eliminate them from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
It’s the third-straight time that the Blackhawks have been knocked out in the first round in the traditional 16-team postseason, losing to the Blues in 2016 and the Predators in 2017. This was a little bit different in a pandemic-divided 2019-2020 season, which Jeremy Colliton’s team got into the NHL “bubble” thanks to having the 12th-most points in the Western Conference.
As the final seed, the Blackhawks pulled a surprise with a preliminary round win over fifth-seeded Edmonton in four games. That was their first postseason series win of any kind since they won the Stanley Cup Final against Tampa Bay in June of 2015.
But Vegas proved to have too much, beating a competitive Blackhawks’ team in the first three games of the series, with the second and third contests coming by just a single goal. A gutsy performance by Corey Crawford in Game 4 (46 saves) kept the Blackhawks alive for another game, but it wouldn’t be enough to make it a series.
Alex Tuch’s goal just 1:34 into the third period turned out to be the difference as former Blackhawks’ goaltender Robin Lehner held off his old team the rest of the way. Corey Crawford made 35 saves on the evening, but it wasn’t enough this time to keep his team’s season alive.
What will be frustrating for the group is the fact that they had a pair of leads on Tuesday night, including another fast start. Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat struck for a pair of first period goals to make it 2-0, but unlike Sunday night, Vegas could complete their rally after giving up the early scores.
Max Pacioretty scored with 31 seconds left in the first period and then Mark Stone evened it up with a goal just 57 seconds into the second period. Patrick Kane struck for his first goal since Game 2 of the quarterfinal series later in the second, but Vegas responded just 3:26 seconds later on an Alec Martinez power play score.
Tuch’s score would be the last of the game as the Blackhawks could never find an answer to save their season.