EDMONTON – Maybe it was a sign of something good that came from the other NHL “bubble” in Toronto earlier Friday afternoon.
The 12th-seeded Canadiens knocked off the fifth-seeded Penguins 2-0 to win their series, putting the lowest seed in the Eastern Conference into the traditional Stanley Cup Playoffs.
A few hours later, the Blackhawks had the exact same opportunity in Edmonton, as Jeremy Colliton’s 12th-seeded team had the shot to knockout the host Oilers in Game 4. A group featuring playoff-tested veterans and a healthy amount of young players had pushed their talented opponents to the brink with wins in Game 1 and 3.
In Game 4 on Friday, they would match that effort, and put another upstart into the round of 16.
The Blackhawks knocked off the Oilers 3-2 at Rogers Place to advance to the traditional Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s the first playoff series win for the Blackhawks since they won the Stanley Cup Final against the Lightning in June, 2015.
Dominik Kubalik, who had two goals in Game 1, struck for his third goal of the series with 11:30 to go to give the Blackhawks the lead for good. Strong play by Corey Crawford (43 saves) in net down the stretch helped the team retain the lead and pull the preliminary round upset.
Like the others contests, this one featured a fast start on offense with the Oilers striking first as Josh Archibald scored a goal 45 seconds into the game to give Edmonton the lead. Brandon Saad responded with the tying goal under five minutes later and Matthew Highmore’s tip of a long Duncan Keith shot put the Blackhawks up 2-1.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would tie the game for the Oilers in the second period and it stayed even until Kubalik struck for a goal in the third. Then it was Crawford who stood tall, stopping a number of strong chances by the Oilers down the stretch to preserve the victory.
While it’s a role they’ve not been used to the last decade, the Blackhawks have embraced their underdog role, and have taken another step closer to a Stanley Cup.