EDMONTON – In the first two games, the bookends of the contests were ones to forget for Jeremy Colliton’s team.
They allowed the first goal of the game on Saturday and Monday while being outscored a combined 4-0 in the final period in each contest. They got away with it in Game 1 thanks to an offensive surge in the first and second period, but it caught up to them in Game 2.
Edmonton’s aggressiveness in the third period of that game was something that was mentioned a few times the last 48 hours before Game 3. Colliton said before the game he wanted his group to be more physical and be willing to be more aggressive in key situations.
He got his wish on Wednesday night, especially late, and that’s put the Blackhawks in a great position in this postseason.
The Blackhawks scored a pair of goals in the final six minutes, including the game-winner with 1:16 to go, to beat the Oilers 4-3 in Game 3 at Rogers Place. The win puts Colliton’s team up 2-1 in the preliminary round and one win away from their first postseason series win since the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
Matthew Highmore tipped in a long shot from Slater Koekkoek with 5:48 to go to tie the game, then Jonathan Toews did the same on a shot from Connor Murphy with 1:16 to go to put the Blackhawks ahead. The Blackhawks defense, which has had its share of ups and downs in the series, held firm in the final moments to preserve the win.
Corey Crawford, who allowed four goals in the previous two third periods, pitched a shutout in the final 20 minutes as he made 25 saves for the game.
It was back-and-forth for most of the contest, though Ollie Maatta gave the Blackhawks their first opening goal of the series 9:14 into the game. It didn’t last long, 28 seconds to be exact, as Leon Draisaitl scored to even the game at one.
Toews got the Blackhawks the lead back on the power play in the closing moments of the first period as he got a goal with five seconds to go to make it 2-1. Edmonton got another score from Draisaitl then Connor McDavid struck late in the second period to give the Oilers a 3-2 lead.
But this time the Blackhawks had the aggression in the third period, and its led them to the brink of a series win.